May is Stroke Month

Recognize signs of stroke, and practice these strategies to reduce your risk

Stroke affects people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. Fortunately, most strokes are preventable. We can all take steps to avoid having a stroke, or respond quickly when someone around us is having one.

Facts about strokes in the U.S.

  • Stroke is our nation’s No. 3 killer and a leading cause of disability

    • Each year, about 780,000 Americans have a stroke.
    • On average, one stroke occurs every 40 seconds.
    • Every 3 to 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.
    • Stroke causes about one in 16 deaths.
  • Stroke takes a serious toll in the workplace*
    • Stroke will cost our nation an estimated $65.5 billion in 2008 (medical costs, lost productivity).
  • Some people have a higher risk of stroke.

    • About 60,000 more women than men suffer a stroke each year.
    • African-Americans have almost twice the risk of a first-ever stroke compared with Caucasians.
    • People with high blood pressure (140/90+) have about twice the risk of stroke as people with blood pressure under 120/80.

Know the signs of stroke

The first few hours are crucial in stroke treatment. Get help immediately if you spot the signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing from one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Stroke prevention guidelines

What to do:

  • Know your blood pressure. Have it checked annually. If it’s elevated, work with your doctor to control it.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to control it.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations to control your diabetes.
  • Enjoy a low sodium (salt), low-fat diet.
  • Include exercise in the activities you enjoy each day.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation: a type of irregular heart beat, which requires treatment.
  • Your doctor may recommend drug therapy for stroke prevention.
  • If you experience any stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1.