American Stroke Month is a good time to learn more about strokes and how they can be prevented. Many things can contribute to your risk of a stroke, such as your lifestyle, diet, and overall health. These same factors also can impact how well you recover if you should have a stroke.
This year, there’s a new threat to stroke survivors: COVID-19. Stroke survivors and those with heart disease, including high blood pressure and congenital heart defects, may face an increased risk for complications if they become infected with the novel coronavirus. People with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, compromised immune systems, chronic lung diseases, and other issues, also may be at risk of more severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One stroke happens every 40 seconds. And it can happen to just about anyone. The disease affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, more than 795,000 people across the country have a stroke, and about 140,000 die from one.
Signs of stroke
When a stroke occurs, it’s crucial to get medical treatment quickly. Here are symptoms that, if seen, indicate you should call 911. Remember FAST:
- F—Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- A—Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S—Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- T—Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get that person to the hospital immediately.
Help prevent strokes
The best treatment for stroke is to stop it before it happens. Prevention focuses on stroke risk factors you can control, treat, and improve. They include:
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- High blood cholesterol
- Carotid artery disease
- Peripheral artery disease
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib) or other heart disease
- Sickle cell disease
Improve your health
Heart health is important, because when your heart is healthy, your risk of stroke decreases right along with your risk of heart disease. Throughout our blog posts, you’ll find many ways to get active and eat better. Check out these posts for healthy ideas and use the search feature for many more:
For more information on strokes, you can find many resources online. Here are a few to get you started. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.
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