Did you know that today is World Stroke Day? The importance of raising stroke awareness can’t be overemphasized – With a global mortality rate of over six billion; strokes are the world’s second leading cause of death. These facts might seem terrifying, but the key takeaways of the World Stroke Day campaign are that strokes can be prevented and strokes can be treated if detection and treatment happen quickly.
According to research, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Here are the factors you should be paying attention to start reducing your risk now:
[list style=”list-img1″] Know your blood pressure (hypertension) High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have blood pressure checked yearly by your doctor.
[list style=”list-img1″] Identify atrial fibrillation (Afib) Afib is an abnormal heartbeat that can increase stroke risk by 500%. Afib can cause blood to pool in the heart and may form a clot and cause a stroke. Afib must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Stop smoking Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Know cholesterol levels Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood that is made by the body. It also comes in food. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Control diabetes Many people with diabetes have health problems that are also stroke risk factors. A doctor and dietician can help manage diabetes. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Manage exercise/diet Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Exercise five times a week. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Treat circulation problems Fatty deposits can block arteries carrying blood to the brain and lead to a stroke. Other problems such as sickle cell disease or severe anemia should be treated. [/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) A TIA is a temporary episode of stroke-like symptoms that can last a few minutes to 24 hours but usually causes no permanent damage or disability. TIA and stroke symptoms are the same. Recognizing and treating a TIA can reduce stroke risk. Up to 40 percent of people who experience a TIA may have a stroke. [/list]
If a stroke is detected in its early stages and the victim is taken to the hospital, there is a higher chance of survival and the likelihood of long-term damage is decreased. If you see someone you think might be suffering from a stroke, just remember to think FAST.
FAST stands for:
[list style=”list-img1″] Face Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.[/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?[/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Speech Difficulty Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?[/list]
[list style=”list-img1″] Time to call 999 If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 999 or your local emergency hotline to get them to the hospital immediately.[/list]
For more information on World Stroke Day, visit the World Stroke Campaign.