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What You Need to Know About Strokes

Man in t-shirt holding his chest in pain with both hands

According to the Center for Disease Control, “every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.” Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death in America. Because May is National Stroke Awareness Month, we decided to share some things you can do to prevent a stroke, the warning signs of a stroke, and what you should do if you or someone you love appears to be having a stroke.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts, or when there is a blockage that stops the flow of blood to the brain. The National Stroke Association states, “studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to reduce personal risk.” There are a number of things you can start doing right now to reduce your risk of having a stroke, according to the National Stroke Association:

1. Know your blood pressure.
2. Find out whether you have atrial fibrillation.
3. If you smoke, stop.
4. Find out if you have high cholesterol.
5. If diabetic, follow recommendations to control your diabetes.
6. Include exercise in your daily routine.
7. Enjoy a lower-sodium (salt), lower-fat diet.

Knowing the signs of a stroke can be the difference between life and death for you or someone you love. At any sign of a stroke it is imperative that you call 9-1-1 right away. The Center for Disease Control lists the following as symptoms of a stroke:

• Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
• Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding.
• Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
• Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
• Severe headache with no known cause.

You may not think this information is important to you, since most people associate strokes with older adults, but almost ¼ of strokes occur in people under 65 years of age. Work through this Stroke Risk Scorecard to see which changes you need to make in your life to reduce your chances of having a stroke. Make sure to work closely with your healthcare provider in these endeavors.