May is Stroke Awareness Month. This month is all about knowing how to recognize a stroke and how to help someone who may be having a stroke. You may not think this applies to you (and it may not directly) but you having this information could save the life of someone you know and love, which is definitely worth learning about. Let’s review what to look for, how to help/when to call 911, and what you can do to help prevent strokes from occurring. Let’s get to it!
Strokes are the 5th leading cause of death in the United States (behind heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and accidents); this amounts to one person dying every 4 minutes. Additionally, non-fatal strokes happen every 40 seconds! How do strokes occur? Strokes occur due to reduced blood supply to the brain; either the supply is blocked or a vessel ruptures which kills brain tissue. The stroke needs to be treated ASAP to keep brain damage down.
How do we know if someone is having a stroke? There is a really simple, quick acronym to help you notice a stroke F.A.S.T.
F – Face drooping (Is their face drooping or numb? Does their smile seem uneven?)
A – Arm weakness (Are they unable to feel an arm? Are they able to hold both arms out steady?)
S – Speech difficulty (When they speak, is it slurred? Are they hard to understand?)
T – Time to call 911!
If someone is showing these symptoms, it is time to call for help. Even if the symptoms disappear, it is vital to get them checked out.
You are probably thinking the obvious question: How do I prevent myself from having a stroke?
There are several ways to prevent strokes, and I will list a few of the top items here:
The number one thing that you can do is work to lower your blood pressure. There are many ways to do this, including: changing your diet, exercising more, even meditating. The idea here is simple: if you have healthy blood vessels, the likelihood of them being blocked or rupturing is lower.
Another thing to do to prevent strokes is to quit smoking if you smoke. There are a LOT of resources to help with this step, both online and for being part of Designed Wellness. The benefits to quitting smoking are countless, and lower blood pressure, better lung capacity, reduce cancer risk, are just the beginning. You start seeing benefits with 20 minutes of quitting!
Finally, drinking alcohol can help prevent a stroke. Drinking that becomes excessive (more than one drink a day) can increase your chances of having a stroke.
Login to your Designed Wellness to see Journey’s and telephonic health coaching opportunities to help lower your risk of stroke. With options including diet, exercising, quitting smoking, moderating your alcohol consumption, and stressing less, you can take active steps in lowering your risk with working towards your incentive.
This month, think about the things that you can do to reduce your (and those around you) risk for a stroke. A few minor changes and remembering F.A.S.T. could help keep you or a loved one healthy and safe from the silent threat of a stroke.
Until next time!