National Stroke Awareness Month: How To Protect Against Stroke
May is National Stroke Awareness Month in the US and the UK. Stroke is a severe condition with a long-lasting impact and is responsible for an estimated 11% of deaths worldwide. But speedy detection and treatment of a stroke can make a massive difference to a victim’s survival and recovery. Therefore, immediate action on stroke is crucial in preventing long-term damage to a victim.
That is why it is vitally important that we all educate ourselves on what a stroke is and how to detect one, and learn how to protect ourselves against this deadly disease. This article will raise awareness of what you need to do to prevent stroke and how to deal with it. It is also essential to make sure that people know what proper action on stroke month they should take.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when an affected person’s blood supply to part of their brain is cut off or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die, necessitating urgent medical attention to save the victim. In 80% of cases, a stroke is caused by blocked blood vessels. However, it can also be caused by bleeding in the brain, for example, if a blood vessel leaks or bursts.
There are several symptoms of a stroke. The most common signs are sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body, confusion and problems with speaking or understanding, vision changes – such as blurred vision, loss of sight or double vision. The patient may also experience intense headaches, dizziness and feeling sick.
Confusion is often the first sign that someone might be having a stroke. It can help to ask family members about when these symptoms started. Knowing this information will be helpful when it comes to deciding what treatment needs to be given.
How Common is Stroke?
- According to the World Health Organization, stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and is a leading cause of dementia and depression.
- A stroke occurs every five minutes in the UK and every 40 seconds in the US.
- Stroke is a leading cause of severe long-term disability. It reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors aged 65 or over.
- About 80% of strokes in the US are preventable.
How do You Detect a Stroke?
Detecting a stroke can sometimes be difficult, especially if you do not know its signs and symptoms. Fortunately, the Stroke Association has made this easy with its FAST test, which lists three checks to carry out, followed by action if any of the checks cause concern. The steps to follow if you suspect someone has suffered a stroke are:
Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call emergency services to check on the potential patient under the guidelines of the Stroke Association.
Proper Action on Stroke Month
The leading causes of stroke are high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. Worryingly, a third of the US adult population has at least one of these habits or conditions. Dealing with these underlying causes of stroke can dramatically reduce your risks. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Stop smoking
Smoking doubles your risk of dying when a stroke happens. It also makes it harder for you to recover in the event of a stroke. If you smoke, quitting should be your main priority to maintain your health. You can start by making a list of why you want to stop and the benefits that it will have on you, your family, and those around you, including reducing the possibility of getting a stroke.
2. Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol raises your blood pressure and can cause weight gain, which is not suitable for your health in the long term. If you want to drink alcohol, take care and abide by the maximum recommended amount of one glass of wine or beer per day for women and two glasses for men.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight raises your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. These are both significant risk factors for stroke. Losing weight can help lower your blood pressure and diabetes, significantly reducing your risk of getting a stroke and allowing you to care for your body better.
5. Proper exercise
Regular physical activity reduces your risk of a stroke. Aim for at least 30 minutes every day. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with small achievable goals, like taking 15-minute walks during your lunch breaks, and build up gradually.
6. Follow a healthy diet
You know the drill: eat lots of fruit and vegetables for fibre, reduce saturated fat and limit salt intake. Including a wide variety of foods in your diet helps to get a balance of nutrients. A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of suffering a stroke.
7. Protect yourself financially
The risk of having a stroke increases with age, but they can – and do – occur at any age. An estimated 10% of strokes occur in people under 50, and recovery can take weeks, months, or even years. The fallout can be devastating for families if a breadwinner suffers a stroke and needs time off work to recover. In some cases, sufferers are unable to return to their previous jobs.
Without financial protection, a stroke can have terrible economic consequences when it happens, requiring significant lifestyle changes and the devastation of retirement savings. That’s why critical illness cover is a crucial element of a sound financial plan. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune and could turn out to be one of the most valuable investments you make that has the most significant impact in your life.
Suppose you’d like to discuss critical illness cover and find out how to protect yourself and your family against the devastating financial consequences of a stroke or other serious illness or injury. In that case, we’d love to hear from you.
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