May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and we’re taking the time to remind everyone that there are steps you can take to help prevent and reduce your risk of stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability1,2. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.2 One American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, on average.2

While the following information is helpful for stroke prevention, it’s also important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association both share informative tips and education on quickly identifying stroke warning signs as well as how to what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.

How to Help Prevent Stroke

The CDC focuses on two key areas when it comes to preventing stroke.  These areas involve making healthy lifestyle choices and being aware of medical conditions.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Getting enough exercise.
  • Not smoking.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Limiting alcohol use.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.

Medical Conditions include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and previous history of stroke.

Getting Enough Exercise

Being active daily can help you sustain a healthy weight and decrease cholesterol and blood pressure levels.  The Surgeon General advises that adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, each week. It’s recommended that children and teens get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day. For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site.

Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking significantly raises your risk for stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you are a smoker, it’s been proven that quitting the habit will reduce your risk for stroke. See your doctor or medical provider for ways to help you quit.

For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.

Eat Smart

Selecting healthy meal and snack alternatives can help you prevent stroke and its complications. Remember to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.Consuming foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol  but also high in fiber can help you avoid high cholesterol. Another way to help lower and maintain blood pressure is by limiting the salt (sodium) in your diet.To get more details on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program Web site.

Monitor or Decrease Alcohol Intake

Drinking can increase your blood pressure. A good rule of thumb to remember: Men should not have more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Research shows that being overweight or obese raises your risk for stroke. If you are unsure whether or not your weight is in a healthy range, take a look at how doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can determine your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. Medical professionals will also often use waist and hip measurements to measure excess body fat.

Medical Conditions

If you already have certain health conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or other medical concerns requiring medication, it’s critical that you have these things monitored and checked on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all appointments with your doctor so that you can be your healthiest. You view tips on how to keep updated on your current health conditions on the CDC’s website dedicated to preventing stroke.

*References provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief, No. 178. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept. of Health and Human Services; 2014.
  2. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015:e29–322.

Comments are closed.