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Stroke Awareness Month: 3 Steps to Manage Your Stroke Risk

May 29, 2024

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. We recognize this month each year because for many people, stroke awareness can be truly life-saving – someone in the US suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and for these patients, timely treatment can mean the difference between successful recovery and long-term disability. The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of nutrients to the brain, causing brain cells to die rapidly. The good news is that with knowledge and preparation, your chances of a deadly stroke become much lower.

By taking steps to prevent stroke, and knowing how to recognize a stroke when it occurs, you reduce the risk to you and your family. Here’s what you can do to stay healthy:

Build healthy habits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 80% of strokes are preventable. While some of your stroke risk is genetic, much of it comes down to factors that are within your control. If you’ve let bad habits get the best of you, this month is the perfect time to start building a healthy lifestyle that can reduce your risk of stroke. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, full of whole grains and leafy greens and light on sugar and red meat. Exercise regularly, with a plan to move your body for 150 minutes each week. Finally, quit smoking – cigarette usage is linked to many health problems, and stroke risk is one of them.

Know your risk.

Even with a healthy lifestyle, no one is completely safe from stroke. Understanding your risk lets you make important decisions regarding your health. You are at greater risk of stroke if you are over age 65, and your risk may change based on your gender, ethnicity, family health history, and other preexisting conditions. People with high blood pressure or cholesterol levels are also at higher risk of stroke. This month, ask your primary care provider about your stroke risk, and schedule a visit to learn your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

Prepare to BE FAST

Do you know what a stroke looks like? While most Americans recognize sudden numbness as being one major symptom, fewer people can spot the other signs that a stroke may have occurred. Knowing these signs is vital for timely treatment – patients who get emergency care immediately upon first symptoms tend to recover much more successfully. You can remember common stroke symptoms with the acronym BE FAST:

  • Balance loss, confusion or dizziness
  • Eyesight changes, such as blurry vision
  • Facial drooping, especially on one side of the body
  • Arm weakness, especially on one side of the body
  • Speech difficulties, such as slurring or mumbling
  • Time to call 9-1-1. Don’t wait to get treatment!

Even if these symptoms disappear quickly, the danger isn’t over. Every stroke can cause lasting damage, and every stroke patient should seek emergency care right away. If think that you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, don’t hesitate to find help at an emergency room near you.

Visit our Find a Provider tab to schedule an appointment today. In the event of a stroke-related emergency, call 9-1-1. Minutes matter, and acting quickly may save a life, including your own.

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