Doubling down on the fight against stroke

    May is National Stroke Awareness Month, an observance that reminds us of the devastating nature of this disease and more importantly, how we can prevent it or at least curtail its impact.

    Stroke is the fih leading cause of death in the U.S., killing someone every four minutes. And when a stroke isn’t deadly, it can be particularly destructive, causing disabilities ranging from impaired speech to partial paralysis. We see the damage done by a stroke just about every day at SageWest Health Care, which makes us big proponents of the proverbial “ounce of prevention.”

    Or in the case of stroke, two ounces.

    Ounce one falls in the category of “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Simply put, a healthy lifestyle will significantly reduce your risk of stroke. That means exercising regularly, losing weight, eating healthier and maintaining normal blood pressure (typically, around the 120 over 80 target, give or take a few points). It means quitting smoking and only drinking in moderation, if at all. Regular visits to your primary care physician ‒ annually at least ‒ are also a good idea.

    The second essential preventive measure is our collective responsibility to “read and react” ‒ to recognize signs of stroke and get immediate assistance.

    With a stroke, time is brain. For every minute the brain is deprived of necessary blood flow, 1.9 million brain cells die. Recognizing the stroke warning signs and calling 911 immediately may make the difference between a strong recovery or long-term disability ‒ survival or death.

    The FAST acronym was created to empower each of us to identify the signs of stroke and act accordingly. It is shared during Stroke Awareness Month – and every month –as a means for all of us to do our part to diminish the impact of the disease. In brief, here’s what it tells us to look for and do (if we see the signs):

    • Face-drooping
    • Arm weakness
    • Speech slurred
    • Time to call 911

    It varies, but in general, an individual suffering from stroke has 60 minutes ‒ the “golden hour” ‒ from stroke onset to treatment to restore blood flow and save threatened brain tissue. Our ability to act FAST can be the difference between recovery and a normal life or permanent disability and even death.

    SageWest Health Care offers a free online assessment that can help you determine your level of risk for having a stroke. Complete the Stroke Health Risk Assessment, it only takes three minutes.

    This Stroke Awareness Month, be a part of the solution. Live a healthier lifestyle and commit the FAST acronym to memory. Let’s get a stroke on the nation’s top 5 deadliest diseases list ‒ FAST!

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