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Stroke Awareness Month

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. It kills more than 130,000 Americans each year and is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is blocked. This cuts off oxygen from the brain cells and they begin to die off.

There are two types of strokes, hemorrhagic strokes and ischemic strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel is weak and breaks open, leading to a brain bleed. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot forms from fatty deposits along blood vessel walls. The blood clot blocks blood from reaching the brain. This type of blood clot is known as atherosclerosis.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Do you know what a stroke looks like?

Signs of Stroke

The American Stroke Association has a unique acronym to help you remember the signs of stroke:

F – Face Drooping

A – Arm Weakness

S – Speech Difficulty

T – Time to Call 9-1-1

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Additional symptoms include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the face, leg or arm
  • Sudden loss of vision, coordination, speech or strength
  • Sudden loss of balance, dizziness, or suddenly falling
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Loss of consciousness

By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can react and seek help quickly. When it comes to stroke, the time between a stroke and getting medical attention is critical.

Risk Factors

Knowing your risk factors for stroke can empower you to take control of your health. Several risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle changes and medical intervention.

Smoking, an unhealthy diet, and an inactive life all increase your risk of stroke, as well as your risk of other diseases. In order to minimize your risk, you just need to make a few simple changes:

  • Get 150 minutes of exercise a week. That 150 minutes can be broken down to an easy 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • Find an exercise that you enjoy. The gym isn’t for everyone, but there are other options. Yoga, hiking, rowing, or even walking are just a few great options.
  • Eat foods that are low in starch, sugar, and salt. Replace junk food with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish.
  • If you are a smoker, it’s never too late to quit. Talk with your doctor to help make a plan you can stick to.

These life changes will help you control risk factors that include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity.

Other risk factors for stoke include atrial fibrillation, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, and family history. Talk to your family members to see if anyone in your family has a history of stroke. Genetics can play a large role stroke, as well as other diseases.

If you would like to know more about stroke, the American Stroke Associate is a great resource for you. You can access their website here.

Atrial fibrillation is a major health issue that causes about 15 percent of strokes. See NATF's Atrial Fibrillation Action Initiative to learn more.

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