American Stroke Awareness Month
American Stroke Awareness Month kicks off in May to increase public awareness about the warning signs of stroke. The event also aims to educate people about the symptoms of a stroke, prevention techniques, and the impact of the condition on patients, their families, and caregivers. As a division of the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association (ASA) shares the message each May that “strokes are preventable, treatable, and beatable.”
What Is a Stroke?
Strokes happen when blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked. It can also happen when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This situation causes a very serious medical emergency because brain cells die when starved of blood.
It's very important to get care immediately after suffering from a strong. There are treatments available but some only work if taken within the first three hours after experiencing symptoms. Care delays could result in negative health outcomes.
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Eighty percent of strokes are believed to be preventable.
Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke
A focus of American Stroke Month is the F.A.S.T. education campaign. The phrase helps educate the public on the signs of stroke to look for and when it's time to call for help. F.A.S.T. stands for:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
Strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices. For example, doctors encourage everyone to eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Having high cholesterol and high blood pressure can raise your chances of a stroke. That's why experts will tell you to eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber to lower your chances of a stroke. Limiting salt in your diet can also lower your blood pressure and help you to avoid a stroke.
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for stroke. Physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Low impact exercises like walking are a great choice to start being more physically active. Things like smoking and alcohol are discouraged when trying to keep your stroke risks in check.