Did you know that stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disabilities for Americans?
Did you also know that 80% of strokes can be avoided? That’s right, strokes, which claim the lives of more than 133,000 Americans every year, are largely preventable, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA).
That’s why we’re proud proponents of American Stroke Month, which takes place every May. This year, the ASA is focusing its efforts on spreading awareness about stroke symptoms as well as the leading cause of strokes, high blood pressure.
How to Spot the Symptoms of Stroke — Think F.A.S.T.
Your ability to spot stroke symptoms and act quickly might mean the difference between life and death or between a full recovery and long-term disability. Want an easy way to remember the warning signs? Just think F.A.S.T.
Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Ask the person to smile and see if it appears uneven.
Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms and watch if one drifts downward.
Speech Difficulty/Slurring — Is speech slurred or hard to understand, even for simple sentences?
Time to Call 911 — If you or someone else shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 immediately.
The Leading Cause of Stroke? High Blood Pressure.
Although the risk of stroke increases as you age, strokes can occur at any age, and they affect people of every race and gender. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce your individual risk.
Beyond family history and other unavoidable health factors that contribute to your risk level, your lifestyle choices, including smoking, diet and exercise habits, play a pivotal role in determining your likelihood of having a stroke.
The ASA emphasizes that high blood pressure makes people more vulnerable than any other factor, however. That’s because high blood pressure increases your chances of having a clot or rupture interrupt blood flow to the brain. They also note that 1 in 6 adults with high blood pressure doesn’t know he or she has it, so this is the perfect month to go get your blood pressure checked.
Visit our Online Health Library to learn more about high blood pressure, its contributing factors and ways you can work on lowering your blood pressure. In addition, you should also take our Stroke Risk Assessment to understand your risk for having a stroke — it takes just a couple minutes, and it could make all the difference.