May is National Stroke Awareness Month.
The first step to prevent this “silent killer” is to understand it. Stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, and at any age, but it is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke making it the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. High blood pressure raises your risk of a stroke.
You checked your blood pressure, and it is a little higher than you hoped. No worries. Your blood pressure can be controlled. Normal blood pressure is or less than 120 mm Hg systolic over 80 mm Hg or less diastolic. Small changes go a long way. Changing your diet, and reducing your salt intake can help reduce your blood pressure. Regular physical activity goes a long way. Both of these factors will help you maintain a healthy weight which is great for controlling your blood pressure. Stress management is another important consideration. As well as tobacco use and alcohol use. There are also medications that can be used. Your doctor may prescribe these if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. As we age, we all develop higher risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Men have a higher risk of have high blood pressure until age 45. Women and men seem to have the risk at age 45 to 65. At age 65, women seem to have an increased risk. African Americans seem to be at a greater risk as well. CompassionCare Hospice urges you to know the signs of a stroke. It is a really easy acronym, F.A.S.T.
F – Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb. A good way to tell is to ask the person to smile. Is their smile uneven?
A – Arm weakness. A good way to tell is to ask the person to raise both arms. Does one of their arms drift downward?
S – Speech difficulty. Is the person able to speak at all? Is their speech slurred, or are they hard to understand? Ask them to repeat a simple sentence.
T – Time to call 911. Time is of the utmost. Nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated. Note when the symptoms started to occur. Even if the symptoms go away, get the person to the hospital right away.