It’s May again and the hydrangeas are in bloom here in Hunt County. This month many of us are active outside, working in the garden, playing sports, and otherwise taking advantage of the lovely weather, and we’re starting to think about visiting the lake or the pool as the temperatures increase.
And we want to encourage healthy habits like these, especially since May also happens to be National Stroke Awareness Month. To do this, we want to make sure you know two main things: 1) How stroke can be prevented, and 2) how to know the signs of stroke when it’s happening.
How Stroke can be Prevented
Established back in 1989 by presidential proclamation, the goal of Stroke Awareness Month is to stem the tide of death and disability caused by a disease that, in many cases, can be prevented.
[B]ecause so many of the condition’s risk factors can be minimized by personal effort, public awareness is the key weapon in conquering stroke. —Proclamation 5975 Stroke Awareness Month
Back when President Bush signed the proclamation, approximately 500,000 Americans suffered a stroke each year. That number is now 800,000. And according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of all strokes are preventable.
Heart disease, and many of the factors that put you at risk for it, also increase your risk of stroke. These include underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Because all three of these conditions can be present without symptoms, they are often called “silent killers.” And they are all treatable.
The American Heart and Stroke associations especially urge people to get their blood pressure checked and under control. They say it is the most important preventable factor and recommend you aim for blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg or lower.
Stroke risk factors that you have the most control over, are the ones associated with lifestyle. Of these, the Centers for Disease Control names the following factors as most risky:
- Unhealthy eating
- Lack of exercise
- Too much Alcohol
How to Know the Signs of Stroke
Knowing the signs of stroke is important because survival depends heavily on how soon treatment begins. Death and severe disability from a stroke are more likely to be prevented with quick treatment. If you recognize the signs of stroke in yourself or someone you are with, get medical help FAST.
This is so important that the acronym F.A.S.T. for Face, Arm, Speech and Time was developed to help you remember four hallmark signs of stroke:
- Face: Look for an uneven smile
- Arm: Check if one arm is weak
- Speech: Listen for slurred speech
- Time: Call 911 right away
You can watch this video to learn more about it these fours signs of stroke. Learn them yourself and then we urge you to pass this information along to your family and friends. You never know, it could save a life.
If you think you or someone you are with may be having a stroke, call 911 right away. If, however, you simply want to know what your blood pressure is or if you have any other risk factors for stroke, contact us today and make an appointment.
Image credit: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock