A stroke is no joke. In the United States alone, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds; however, 80% of all strokes are preventable, according to the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s. May is National Stroke Month, which is dedicated to elevating stroke awareness and promoting healthy lifestyle choices nationwide.
When it comes to stroke, every second counts! With no time to waste, let’s chat and chew about stroke risk factors, warning signs, and prevention tips.
STROKE RISK FACTORS
While some risk factors for stroke can’t be prevented—age, family history, race, gender, prior stroke—there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can decrease your chances.
- High blood pressure is the frontrunner when it comes to causes of stroke; it is the most important controllable risk factor as well. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Do you know your numbers? If not, get your blood pressure checked. There’s a reason high blood pressure is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer” – it has no symptoms – so be proactive before it’s too late.
- Tobacco use, more specifically, cigarette smoking, has harmful effects on the cardiovascular system; it damages blood vessels, which can lead to blockages and stroke. While smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death, it is a hard habit to kick. Compass Rose Health Plan members have access to a free Smoking Cessation Program through QuitNetÒ. Visit compassrosebenefits.com/QuitSmoking for more information.
- Diabetes can increase a person’s risk of stroke by 2 to 4 times. The disease can cause harm to blood vessels, including those in the brain, which increases the risk of stroke.
- High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked, a stroke can occur.
- Obesity and a lack of physical activity can lead to a variety of medical complications, including hypertension, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Don’t be weighed down by the impacts of poor diet and exercise—take the first step to living a healthier and more active lifestyle today!
STROKE-FREE IS THE WAY TO BE
While the title above has a nice ring to it, what does it actually take to prevent stroke? Check out the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s infographic below for seven simple lifestyle changes to keep you stroke-free.
© American Heart Association / American Stroke Association | www.strokeassociation.org
This year’s National Stroke Month theme is all about being Stroke Heroes. It doesn’t take super-human strength or x-ray vision to prevent stroke, but it’s important to pay attention to risk factors. Although a healthy diet and exercise are very helpful in preventing stroke, there is no guarantee that it can’t happen. Whether you, a loved one, or a stranger on the street is experiencing a stroke, knowing the warning signs can help you act F.A.S.T. (face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 9-1-1) and save lives!