NORFOLK, Va. – October 29 is World Stroke Day, an effort by the American Stroke Association to raise awareness and save lives.
“Clinical research has shown us that up to 80% of strokes can be prevented, which is huge news,” said Dr. Carolyn Brockington, the Director of the Stroke Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City.
Brockington said the best way to prevent strokes are by monitoring high blood pressure and making long-lasting lifestyle changes.
“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the number one reason why people have both stroke and heart disease,” Brockington said. “So if you find that you have high blood pressure, you need to do something about it, not just one day a week but your whole life, in order to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.”
According to the American Stroke Association, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80. Regular exercise, a diet filled with fruit and vegetables and regular sleep can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed medication, it’s important to take it to prevent it from becoming more dangerous.
In addition to high blood pressure, there are stroke risk factors you can control like diabetes, physical inactivity, obesity and smoking. Risk factors out of your control include age, family history, race and previous strokes.
“This year, especially, put your health first,” said Hampton Roads radio personality Ambie Renee. Her father suffered three strokes in the last year, with two occurring within months of each other during the pandemic. “Don't ignore anything.”
Ambie Renee said getting her father to the hospital soon after stroke symptoms arrived was critical to saving his life.
“His speech was slurred. He couldn't… No words were forming,” she explained. “Whatever he was trying to say, he just wasn't making sense.”
According to the American Stroke Association, there are key signs of a stroke, as explained by the acronym F.A.S.T:
- Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away,call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.