Stroke Awareness MonthDid you know May is Stroke Awareness & Prevention Month? Approximately 6.8 million Americans over the age of 20 have had a stroke, so it’s critical to understand what strokes are and what you can do to prevent them. 

Awareness

The National Stroke Association describes a stroke as the occurrence of an artery in the brain either bursting or being blocked. The part of the brain that has its blood supply cut off starts to die. Strokes often cause damage to the brain, causing individuals to have lasting problems with walking, speaking, seeing, or feeling, depending on the part of the brain that’s been affected. 

There’s also the scary relative of a stroke, a transit ischemic attach (TIA), which causes the temporary onset of stroke-like symptoms when blood flow into the brain is blocked for a short time. TIA’s are an early indicator of a true stroke and if you suspect you’ve experienced one, seek medical attention immediately. 

If you suspect someone you are with is experiencing a stroke, act FAST

  • Face: Ask the person to speak or smile. If one side of the face droops, they may be experiencing a stroke
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise their arms. If one arm drifts down, they may be experiencing a stroke.
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a routine phrase. If their speech is slurred or unusual, they may be experiencing a stroke.
  • Time: Call 911 immediately.

Prevention

Luckily, there are proactive measures you can take ahead of time to prevent strokes from occurring. Did you know that up to 80% of strokes can be prevented by monitoring and adjusting certain risk factors? 

Medical risk factors like those mentioned below can be managed. Talk with your doctor about what is realistic for you. 

  • Previous stroke
  • Previous episode of TIA
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation (AF) and carotid artery disease

Lifestyle stroke risk factors like those below can be controlled, and it’s important that you do all that is in your power to keep them at bay or eliminate them entirely. 

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Regular overconsumption of alcohol

You can also complete the American Heart Association’s Personal Risk Assessment Form and bring it to your next doctor appointment to discuss your situation with your physician.

As the temperatures begin to climb, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind and remember to act FAST if you think someone you are with may be experiencing a stroke.