May is Stroke Awareness Month! Strokes kill more than 133,000 Americans every year. Having a stroke is also the leading cause of long-term disability. So, during the month of May, we bring awareness to the prevention of strokes, as well as the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

A stroke occurs when a clot forms or a blood vessel ruptures and changes the flow of blood to the brain. This interruption in blood flow causes the brain cells to die and can cause permanent damage and disability.

Up to 80% of strokes can be avoided by properly controlling your blood pressure. High blood pressure (greater than 120/80) puts you at an increased risk for a stroke. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they have high blood pressure, because people with high blood pressure often have no symptoms—high blood pressure is often referred to as the “Silent Killer.”

The American Stroke Association wants you to remember the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to spot signs of a stroke:

  1.     F for face drooping—does one side of the face droop or feel numb?
  2.     A for arm weakness—is one arm weak or numb?
  3.     S for speech difficulty – is the speech slurred or the person unable to speak
  4.     T for time to call 911—if someone shows signs of any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and say “I think this is a stroke.” It is very important to get immediate medical attention. Time lost to treatment equals loss of brain cells. Waiting to see if the symptoms go away is a huge mistake.

Other signs of a stroke include sudden onset of confusion, sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, sudden loss of coordination or difficulty walking, or a sudden and severe headache.

Put a plan in place to prevent a stroke by doing the following:

  1.     Regularly monitor your blood pressure and keep your numbers in the normal range.
  2.     Stop smoking.
  3.     If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugars in control.
  4.     Keep physically active.
  5.     Keep your cholesterol under control.
  6.     Take steps to improve your diet and control your weight.

Start today to reduce your risk factors so a stroke never happens to you! Contact Severino Health Advisors if you need assistance in finding resources to help reduce your risk for developing a stroke.