As we wrap up the month designated for Stroke Awareness, let’s remember that it’s important to be mindful of our health and the symptoms of stroke every month. Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. According to the World Heart Federation, the global stats show that every year 15 million people suffer a stroke. Strokes are a leading cause of disability, and they can result in death. A stroke is a “brain attack.” They occur if there is a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain. It can be daunting to take a look a t the numbers, but that is what stroke awareness is all about—sharing the facts so that people will have this critical information.
You should know the symptoms of a stroke. Early recognition and prompt medical attention can save a life. To make it easier to remember the symptoms, think FAST. The ability to think quickly is one thing, but the acronym F.A.S.T. sums it up for stroke awareness like this:
Face Drooping—Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile; is the smile uneven?
Arm Weakness—Is one arm weak or numb? Can the person raise both of his or her arms? Does one arm drift down?
Speech Difficulty—Is the speech slurred. Can the person speak and is he or she understandable? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as “The sky is blue.” Can he or she do that, and can you understand it?
Time to call—If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms disappear, call 9-1-1. Don’t call anyone other than 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. You should also take a look at the clock so that you will know when the symptoms first appeared.
There are several risk factors that can contribute to stroke, some of which can be adjusted by making lifestyle choices. Risk factors you can change include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, tobacco and illegal drug use. Factors that you cannot control include age, gender, heredity and race, and previous incidence of stroke.
To reduce your risk of having a stroke, make wise food choices. Include a variety of foods in your diet that are lean, low in fat, sodium and sugar, and high in fiber. Choose to eat lean meats, poultry and fish. Limit the amount of deep-fried items and eat an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make sure your diet includes high fiber options such as whole grain breads and brown rice. The addition of beans and legumes will also help boost your fiber intake. Make sure you stay hydrated; drink plenty of water such as ambient or carbonated waters that are lower in calories. Drink beer, cocktails and wine in moderation and don’t overindulge in alcoholic beverages.
As for tobacco and drugs, those should simply be omitted. If you feel that you need help making this change, talk to your health care provider about assistance and support groups that can help you cut them out and avoid including them in your lifestyle.
Make sure you include exercise or some type of physical activity in your daily routine. Physical activity will help you control or lose weight and reduce stress. It will also give you an energy boost afterward. If you find it challenging to get into an organized exercise program, consider taking the stairs in place of the elevator, park where you can get in some extra walking to the store, or put on some music and just dance. These are simple things you can easily work into your day.
By choosing to make positive changes for a healthier lifestyle you can reduce your risk for stroke. Keep F.A.S.T. in mind, share this information and get moving to improve your health.
Take Away: Be stroke aware, know the symptoms and choose to reduce your risk of stroke by making the choice to live a well-being lifestyle.
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