May is National Stroke Month.
The purpose is to increase awareness of what you can do to reduce your risk of a stroke and what you should do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
Information posted on the Medicare.gov website notes that strokes are the 5th leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of serious disability for adults. With more than 800,000 strokes happening in our country each year, someone suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds.
Strokes are most prevalent among older adults and individuals living in urban areas. They are caused by the flow of blood to the brain being blocked.
Being physically active; maintaining a healthy body weight; controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure; and reducing your blood sugar are ways to reduce your risk of a stroke. If you are on Medicare, you should talk with your doctor about free screenings and preventive services that may be available through Medicare.
If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, we are advised to Think FAST (Face, Arms, Speech and Time).
Is one side of a person’s face drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile.
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
Is the person’s speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak? Is it hard for you to understand what the person is saying? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can the person repeat the sentence?
Symptoms of a stroke can also include a sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination; dizziness; brief loss of consciousness; sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes; sudden confusion; and sudden numbness of the legs or on one side of the body.
If the person shows an any symptoms of a stroke, call for emergency help immediately, even if the symptoms only lasted for a short period of time or have gone away. With a stroke, the faster someone receives care, the greater the chance the person will be able to make a full recovery.
We also are advised to note the time when the symptoms first appeared.
For more information about strokes, click here.