Recognizing that about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, a measure (AJR-54) to designate May as Stroke Awareness Month annually in New Jersey unanimously passed the full Assembly Thursday.
The goal of the month is to raise awareness for the risk factors and warning signs of strokes. About 800,000 Americans have strokes each year, resulting in about 140,000 deaths. A stroke disrupts the flow of blood to the brain and can lead to serious disabilities such as paralysis, problems with cognitive skills, and speech impairment.
Communities of color are often at higher risk of stroke because of elevated levels of stress due to work, financial woes, lack of access to healthcare, and other essential factors. Black Americans have a higher prevalence of stroke and the highest death rate from stroke than any other racial group.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services currently observes May as Stroke Awareness Month. A statewide designation would raise further awareness for stroke prevention and treatment, which may lead to better health outcomes and potentially save lives, particularly in communities of color at higher risk.
The measure’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Britnee N. Timberlake (D-Essex), Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) released the following joint statement:
“A stroke can happen very suddenly and subtly, making it difficult to recognize if someone is unaware of the signs. The severity of strokes also varies widely; in mild cases, a person may have difficulty thinking clearly or experience tingling sensations, while more severe strokes may cause face drooping, arm weakness or slurred speech. In all cases, it’s imperative for people to get medical attention as quickly as possible.
“Designating May as Stroke Awareness Month in New Jersey will create opportunities for more people, especially in communities of color who may be at higher risk of experiencing strokes, to be educated on how to identify strokes and assess their personal risk factors. It also provides an outlet for us to support survivors and all families impacted by this very serious condition.”