Strokes can strike anyone

May is National Stroke Awareness month and the National Stroke Association (NSA) is reminding people that even the smallest efforts matter when it comes to stroke prevention.
National Stroke Awareness Month has taken place this month since May 1989, when President George Bush, Sr., designated the event at the urging of the NSA. Since then, NSA has been honoring this special time of the year to increase public awareness of stroke in an effort to conquer it.
According to the NSA website, a stroke is a “brain attack” that cuts off vital blood and oxygen to the brain cells that control everything we do from speaking, to walking and breathing.
A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age.
Most strokes occur when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. Some strokes can be caused by arteries rupturing when weak spots break on the blood vessel wall.
Each year, stroke strikes approximately 795,000 Americans, killing 144,000 and forever changing the lives of many who survive.
Many strokes can be prevented. New emergency treatments can help stop the brain damage and disability, if you know the symptoms and get immediate attention.
Everyone has some stroke risk. Some stroke risk factors are being over the age of 55, being a male, being African-American, Pacific/Islander or Hispanic, having diabetes and having a family history of stroke.
Medical stroke risk factors include a previous stroke, previous episode of transient ischemic attack or “TIA,” high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease.
Lifestyle stroke risk factors include smoking, being overweight and drinking too much alcohol.
If you have one of these risk factors, it is even more important that you learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a stroke.
NSA offers the following stroke prevention guidelines:
• Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. Have your blood pressure checked at least once each year.
• If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will begin to decrease.
• If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking a glass of wine or beer or one drink each day may lower your risk for stroke, provided that there is no other medical reason you should avoid alcohol. If you don’t drink, don’t start.
• Know your cholesterol number. If it is high, work with your doctor to control it. Lowering your total cholesterol may reduce your risk for stroke. High cholesterol can also indirectly increase stroke risk by putting you at greater risk of heart disease.
• If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
• Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
• Enjoy a lower sodium and lower fat diet. By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and, most importantly, lower your risk for stroke.
• Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems. Fatty deposits can block the arteries, which carry blood from your heart to your brain. Sickle cell disease, severe anemia, or other diseases can cause stroke if left untreated.
Common stroke symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and severe headache with no known cause.
Learning the symptoms of stroke and calling 911 as soon as they occur could save your life.
For more information on stroke awareness visit http://www.stroke.org.

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Posted by on May 4 2011. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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