In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month in May, Community Memorial Health System encourages people to better understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States.
National Stroke Awareness Month each May seeks to educate people about stokes and how to prevent them. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Leading a healthy lifestyle and lowering risk factors can help reduce the risk of a stroke. Eighty percent of strokes are preventable. Recognizing symptoms is critical to treating strokes and possibly preventing or reducing disability, said Stephanie Lara-Jenkins, RN, Stroke Coordinator at CMHS.
“Time is crucial in the treatment of a stroke because the earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater the chance of recovery,” she said. “We have the potential for reversing your stroke or mitigating your disability from a stroke if you get treatment right away.”
Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this happens, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.
Symptoms of stroke (sudden and sustained) are: numbness and/or weakness on one side of the body; numbness or weakness of an arm or leg; slurred speech, trouble speaking or the inability to speak; changes in vision including blurred vision, double vision or vision loss; dizziness and/or loss of coordination; and lightheadedness or feeling faint.
Stroke risk factors are: high blood pressure (see your doctor to control your blood pressure if it’s higher than 130 over 80); atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm); high cholesterol; heart disease; diabetes; smoking; heavy alcohol use; physical inactivity; obesity; a family history of stroke; and depression.
CMHS offers a free, confidential online StrokeAware Risk Assessment for those seeking to determine their risk. This free online tool takes about seven minutes to complete. The StrokeAware assessment will provide participants with a personalized risk assessment report written by a CMH nurse practitioner that will help them learn about their risk and identify any medical or lifestyle factors that may cause a stroke. The StrokeAware Risk Assessment can be taken by visiting https://ha.healthawareservices.com/ra/survey/766.