May is Stroke Awareness Month, and while many Americans may be familiar with the condition, they may not realize how prevalent it is.
According to the Centers of Disease Control, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
Recent statistics by the American Heart Association reveal strokes have a particularly powerful effect in the Southeast. North Carolina ranks 47th in survival rate among stroke victims, South Carolina is 48th, and Virginia is 36th. Those statistics illustrate the need for stroke prevention, and also the need to educate people on the signs that they or a loved one is suffering a stroke.
Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services recommends the guidelines set forth by the National Stroke Association. The National Stroke Association uses a F-A-S-T system, which stands for checking a loved one’s face, arms, and speech, and knowing the time to call.
The American Heart Association also recommends that Americans look for specific symptoms, including sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, loss of vision in one eye, loss of speech or severe headache, and unexplained dizziness.
Many people also suffer minor strokes before a major stroke attack. Those mini-strokes, called a transient ischemic attack, feature stroke-like symptoms for up to one or two hours. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the transient ischemic attack.
A previous TIA is one of several risk factors that can make an adult more susceptible to having a stroke. Other risk factors include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Hardening of the arteries
- High blood pressure or cholesterol levels
- Heart disease
- Carotid artery disease
Health experts recommend several steps to lessen the risk of strokes. Those steps include: determining whether you have high blood pressure or diabetes, quitting smoking, losing weight and exercising more, checking your cholesterol level and eating healthier.