National Stroke Awareness Month: Know Your Risks

May 17, 2021
National Stroke Awareness Month: Know Your Risks

May is National Stroke Awareness month. To spread awareness, QualChoice Health Insurance wants Arkansans to be familiar with the risk factors.

According to the CDC, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. The most common form of stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain. They can also be occur when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, causing blood to build up. In both cases, the brain can suffer damage due to a lack of oxygen. The following risk factors may increase your chance of having a stroke.

Advanced age is a risk factor, but strokes happen at any age.

  • One of the most common misconceptions is that strokes only happen to the elderly.
  • Age is a risk factor, but strokes can – and do – happen at any age.
  • In 2009, 34% of people hospitalized for stroke were age 65 or below, according to the CDC.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke.

  • Luckily, proper medication and lifestyle changes can help in lowering high blood pressure.
  • A heart-healthy diet low in sodium, trans fats and calories is the best place to start.
  • Some practical tips:
    • Add fish to your diet at least twice per week. Eat fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, trout and herring.
    • Make fiber the main event of your meals. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and lentils are great for lowering your blood pressure.
    • Lower your fat intake. Avoid cheese and high fat dairy products.

Smoking and drinking alcohol are both risk factors.

  • The risk of stroke is 2.5 times higher for smokers than those who have never smoked.
  • Kicking your smoking habit may be the best thing you can do for your health.
  • According to the CDC, men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should only have one.

Physical inactivity can contribute to your risk of stroke.

  • Being inactive can contribute to other risk factors, like high blood pressure, which then lead to an increased risk of stroke.
  • Get regular physical activity. Increasing your heart rate for 2 hours and 30 minutes per week helps lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Know the warning signs.

Use the acronym FAST to remind yourself of the warning signs and appropriate actions when you suspect someone is having a stroke.
  • Face drooping or numbness.
  • Arm weakness or involuntary drifting
  • Speech difficulty (slurred speech in particular)
  • Time to call 9-1-1. Even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1.