May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Here at Steward, we are committed to educating patients and communities about the risks, warning signs, symptoms, and preventative measures that can reduce your risk of suffering from a stroke.
A stroke is a cerebrovascular disease that can affect a person’s mobility and speech, and is the leading cause of disability. It occurs when a clot or rupture interrupts the blood supply to the brain, damaging brain cells and impacting the areas of the body those cells control. Unfortunately, stroke is relatively common, with 795,000 Americans experiencing it each year and one death occurring every 4 minutes. Although the risks increase with age, strokes can impact people of all ages and backgrounds, making it important to understand warning signs. The most common include weakness or paralysis in the face, arms, or legs; trouble walking; difficulty speaking; and vision loss, dizziness, or a brief loss of consciousness.
You can remember the symptoms of a stroke with the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T., which stands for:
- Balance is lost
- Eyes become blurry
- Face Drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911.
It’s important to also be aware of other concerning symptoms, including the quick onset of severe headaches, sudden confusion, vision impairments, and difficulty walking. Seeking medical attention quickly for someone experiencing a stroke is vital, as every minute counts in limiting the damage.
Luckily, preventative measures can reduce the risk of stroke. Steward Health Care encourages patients to consult a specialist to determine the best plan for them. Some options include:
- Lowering blood pressure by monitoring it closely and making healthy lifestyle choices.
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes increased polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats with a reduced salt intake.
- Regular exercise contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle and lowers blood pressure.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, which can respectively accelerate the formation of clots and increase the risk of a stroke.
If you’re experiencing any warning signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately. To reduce your risk of stroke, visit a Steward specialist. You can find a provider that works for you in our network by visiting Steward DoctorFinder™ or calling 800-488-5959.