May is National Stroke Awareness month. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and one major cause of disability. Many times, stroke is preventable and treatable!
Risk factors for stroke include genetic traits and lifestyle habits. Everyone should be aware of their personal risk factors to prevent stroke. Some risk factors are within our control. Examples of controllable risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking. Have your blood pressure checked if it has ever been known to be elevated. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Everyone should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries that can result in a stroke. Eating foods high in fiber like fruits and vegetables and avoiding foods high in saturated fat like fried foods, help to reduce or prevent high cholesterol. Walking is a low impact, moderate exercise that reduces excessive weight and helps to maintain good weight. Staying physically active reduces the risk factors of obesity. Smoking can lead to damages within the blood vessels causing a stroke. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke for healthy lungs and heart.
Stroke risk factors that may not be controlled are age, gender, and race. Older black and Hispanic women are at a higher risk. Please see your primary care provider if you have any uncontrollable risk factors for stroke such as atrial fibrillation, blood disorders, or any form of artery disease.
Remember these warning signs of stroke:
Use the letters in F.A.S.T. to detect a stroke and seek help immediately.
Written by Nicole Baldwin, FNP-C Family Nurse Practitioner