Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Due to their lasting impact, strokes have become the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States.
Strokes can also kill.
One of every 20 Americans die because of strokes, and with around 140,000 yearly deaths, someone loses their life to this disease every 4 minutes.
Fortunately, strokes are preventable and treatable. This means that with the right tools, you can take steps to increase your health and reduce your chances of experiencing a debilitating stroke.
Know Your Risk
Although it’s out of your control, genetics do play a part in your risk of having a stroke. Your family history could put you at a greater hereditary risk. Factors like age, gender and ethnicity also affect stroke statistics. This disease is more common in older people, women and African-Americans.
Take Prevention Measures
Medical conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also key indicators that raise your chances for a stroke. But these risk factors can be mediated through precautions and preventive steps. Maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can help. This means adjusting your diet to reduce your intake of salts, fats and cholesterol. Also, make sure to get moving with at least 2½ hours of physical activity a week. You should also avoid smoking and drink alcohol only in moderation, as these are also linked to the risk factors.
BE FAST — Understand the Warning Signs
Most strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This results in a variety of symptoms that can be tricky to recognize in the moment. The most common symptoms are easily remembered with the acronym BE FAST.
B — Balance
E — Eyes and visual disturbances
F — Face drooping
A — Arm weakness
S — Speech difficulty
T — Time to call 911
Although many don’t recognize all of the possible symptoms, this early stage of detection is especially important given that early identification can be the key to rapid treatment. Getting to a medical professional quickly in an emergency can mean better chances at a full recovery. It’s been shown that arrival to the hospital within three hours of the first symptoms is associated with greater success at reducing disability three months out. So if you notice the warning signs, act with the utmost urgency.
Get Professional Help
When you’re experiencing a stroke, emergency medical staff will be there to guide you. But what if you want to access professional care as a preventive measure — whether to just learn more or work towards reducing your risk? Experts in the neurological field are the best doctors for extra care when it comes to strokes.
If you’re seeking specialized neurological services in Southern Maryland, UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Neurology is now accepting patients at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion in La Plata.