How Much Do You Know About Strokes?
On average every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers from a stroke. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in America. Despite the toll it takes on our society many of us don’t know what they are or what the warning signs might be.
Let’s get educated on strokes.
Can I Prevent a Stroke?
A stroke is a blockage or rupture of the blood vessels that feed the brain. Given that it affects blood vessels it is easy to see the connection with high blood pressure and pre-hypertension. It’s important to check your blood pressure early and often to make sure you catch any dangerous trend you and your doctor should be aware of.
Here are some ways you can control external risks to the disease such as:
- Keeping a healthy blood pressure – know your numbers!
- Maintain a healthy body weight – obesity and a high BMI (body mass index) can heighten your risk.
- Eat a well-balanced diet – with lots of fruits and veggies.
- Beware of high sodium intake – and the hidden places it can lurk – from frozen foods to white bread, to antacids.
- Keep exercising – a good goal is 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week making sure each muscle group gets attention
- Quit smoking – or don’t start
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- If you are prescribed medication to treat a risk factor, be sure to take it!
Know Stroke Warning Signs
Would you know if you were having a stroke? Would you know what to do? The National Stroke Association has this checklist of symptoms to consider if you think you may be having a stroke:
- Sudden numbness on the face, arm or leg– especially on one side
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Women should be aware they may experience some unique symptoms:
- Sudden face and limb pain
- Sudden hiccups
- Sudden nausea
- Sudden general weakness
- Sudden chest pain
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden palpitations
Just as important is to recognize symptoms in others who might be having a stroke. There is an easy way to remember some of the signs a person might be experiencing a stroke. It’s called F.A.S.T:
- F- Face: Ask the person to smile… does one side of the face droop?
- A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both their arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
- S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- T – Time: If you observe any of these symptoms call 911 immediately!
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms remember this could be a medical emergency so call 9-1-1 or call your doctor right away! Visit the American Stroke Association for more information and for donation information. The National Stroke Association is another resource for information and donations.