May is National Stroke Awareness Month. National Stroke Association wants you to know what risk factors are associated with stroke and how to prevent stroke happening to you or your loved ones. Stroke can happen to anyone, at any age, and at any time. In the U.S., stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, killing nearly 130,000 people each year.
There are many risk factors for stroke. Some, such as gender, ethnicity, and age, are uncontrollable. Others are controllable. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and should be checked yearly. Other controllable risk factors include high cholesterol, transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions—such as atrial fibrillation.
But up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Taking control is the first step to managing your risk.
Get moving. If you are healthy, participate in moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 40 minutes per day, three to four times per week.
Watch your diet. Consider reducing sodium intake to <2300 mg/day and consider diets rich in fruits and vegetables such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean diets.
Know your numbers. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels in check.
Know your family medical history. If high blood pressure and diabetes are common conditions, it’s important you ask your doctor what you can do to prevent them.
Drink moderately.Studies show a strong connection between alcohol and stroke so make sure to moderate your alcohol intake. No more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
Stop Smoking. Smoking decreases your health in general, but smokers also have 2-4 times the risk for stroke compared to nonsmokers and those who have quit for more than 10 years.
Most people don’t know the warning signs of stroke or what to do when one happens. Stroke is an emergency. But acting quickly can tremendously reduce the impact of stroke.
A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die. Recognizing stroke symptoms can be easy if you remember to think FAST:
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. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke, and it is the only national organization in the U.S. that focuses 100 percent of its efforts on stroke through education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for all impacted by stroke.
Learn more about how you can get involved in National Stroke Awareness Month at www.stroke.org/awareness.