Would you recognize a stroke?
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and while many people think of strokes as something that happens only to older people, stroke can happen at any age. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, reminds us that it’s important to know the signs of a stroke so you can get help fast for you or a loved one.
Who is at risk of having a stroke?
Nurse Rose: While strokes can occur for many reasons, these factors may increase your risk of stroke.
- Parent(s) who had a stroke before age 65
- High blood pressure
- Black/African American ethnicity
- Obesity and/or lack of physical activity
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease including atrial fibrillation (A-fib) or carotid artery disease
- Poor diet high in fat, trans fat and cholesterol
How can you tell if you or someone around you is having a stroke?
Nurse Rose: When someone is having a stroke, it’s important to get medical help quickly Just remember the acronym, FAST, to help you look for these signs.
- F – Facial drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulty
- T – Time to call 911 immediately
Sometimes factors like genetics or other conditions like sickle cell disease influence an individual’s stroke risk, but there are lifestyle changes you can make to make it less likely.
Is there anything we can do to lower our risk of stroke?
Nurse Rose: Reduce your risk of stroke with these tips.
- Prevent or control high blood pressure
- Eat healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Be physically active daily
- Keep a healthy weight based on your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Do not smoke
- Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes
- Manage your cholesterol