May is American Stroke Awareness Month
May is American Stroke Awareness month and it is a good time to make sure you know how to keep yourself healthy and a few steps you can take to try to avoid having a stroke. It is also important to know the signs of a stroke, and what to do if you or a loved one is having a stroke.
People of all age, race, creed, and color can be affected by a stroke. It is important to know how to safeguard yourself against stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), “Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from stroke—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.”
A brain attack, which is what a stroke is sometimes call, happens when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. Most people think strokes only affect the elderly; however, nearly ¼ of all strokes happen to people under the age of 65 years old.
Almost 800,000 strokes occur each year in the United States. Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications that include:
Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.
Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory.
Problems understanding or forming speech.
Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions.
Numbness or strange sensations.
Pain in the hands and feet.
Learn what steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones and prevent a stroke and how to spot a stroke if one occurs.
Lowering Your Risk for Stroke
Factors include, family history, sex, age, and race/ethnicity can all play a role in an individual’s stroke risk. There are things you can do, regardless of your background to lower your chances of having a stroke. Some lifestyle changes you can make or improve upon to help lower your risk of a stroke are; exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium, maintain a healthy weight, prevent or control diabetes, and limit your alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women).
We all know how disgusting and bad smoking cigarettes are for you, but, did you know that one in five strokes are contributed to by smoking? You can also give your loved ones a stroke because people who inhale second hand smoke are at a higher risk as well. Two more great reason to stop smoking!
From the CDC website: “In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Million Hearts™ initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. A primary focus is on the ABCS to prevent cardiovascular disease, including stroke, and contribute to overall health:
Know your ABCS of health:
Appropriate Aspirin therapy: Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
Blood pressure control: Keeping your blood pressure under control reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
Cholesterol management: Get your cholesterol checked regularly and manage it with diet and physical activity or with medication, if needed.
Smoking cessation: Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Recognizing the Signs of Stroke
When responding to a stroke, every minute counts. The sooner a patient receives medical treatment, the lower the risk for death or disability. If you or someone you know exhibits the following signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Remember, getting immediate medical attention for stroke is crucial to preventing disability and death,
so don’t delay—dial 9-1-1.
To learn more about reducing your risk for stroke, visit Million Hearts™ , a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over 5 years.
Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke
Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the most effective treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
To learn more about prevention and signs of a stroke, visit the CDC website.
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