National Stroke Awareness Month is observed in the United States each year during the month of May. The goal of National Stroke Awareness Month is to create public awareness about stroke risk factors and to lessen the occurrence of stroke in the U.S. This year, the Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law offer suggestions on how to get involved in National Stroke Awareness Month.
A History of Stroke
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, accounting for one out of every 19 deaths. Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious disability nationwide and around the world. What makes these statistics even more devastating is the fact that experts tell us stroke is 80 percent preventable.
Strokes have been reported as far back as 2000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia and Persia. It was first described by Hippocrates as he discovered the phenomenon of sudden paralysis that is often associated with ischemia. He called the condition ‘apoplexy,’ which is Greek for ‘struck down with violence.’ In 1599, the word stroke was used as a synonym for apoplectic seizure and is a fairly literal translation of the Greek term.
What You Need to Know about Stroke
A stroke is when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Blood carries oxygen to cells in the body. When brain cells are starved of blood, they die. Stroke is a medical emergency. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some treatments for stroke work only if given the first three hours after symptoms start. A delay in care can raise the risk of permanent brain damage or death. Five important things to know about stroke include:
- Stroke kills brain cells. It happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die.
- There are 3 types of stroke, including:
- Ischemic: caused by a clot.
- Hemorrhagic: caused by a rupture.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or “mini stroke”: caused by a temporary blockage.
- Having a stroke increases your risk of having another one. About one in four stroke survivors is at risk for another. Luckily, up to 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable.
- Prevention is key. If you have had a stroke, make a plan with your doctor to stop another. This may include managing high blood pressure and aspirin or other medicine. Aspirin isn’t right for all people. Talk to your doctor first.
- Learn the FAST warning signs.
- F – Face Drooping
- A – Arm Weakness
- S – Speech Difficulty
- T – Time to call 911
What Can I Do to Prevent Stroke?
The good news is that there are several simple things you can do that can dramatically decrease your risk (or that of a loved one) of suffering a stroke, such as:
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet can also lower your blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your chances of a stroke.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for stroke. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Assessing Your Weight website.
- Get enough physical activity. Physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For adults, the Surgeon General suggests two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, like a brisk walk, each week.
- Do not smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your chances of having a stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quitting lowers your risk for stroke.
- Limit alcohol intake. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure.
- Get regular check-ups. Maintain a good relationship with your doctor to help manage conditions that can increase your risk of stroke.
Contact Grand Forks Elder Law Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about stroke or other elder law issues, contact the Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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