Preventive medicine can take many forms. Here at Family Practice Center, we go to great lengths to help educate our patients about the risk of potentially serious health conditions like strokes, in order to help prevent them before they occur. Despite the fact that strokes are among the leading causes of death and long-term disability for adults in the US, they remain a bit of a mystery for many people in regards to their cause, effects, and how they can be prevented. So in honor of National Stroke Awareness month this May, the family medicine providers at Family Practice Center wanted to share the following facts about strokes (all statistics below were gathered by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Stroke Association):
Fact #1: About 1 in every 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease in America is caused by a stroke. That means an American dies of a stroke roughly once every 3 minutes.
Fact #2: The overwhelming majority of strokes are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked or disrupted by blood clotting. In fact, about 87% of all strokes fall into this category.
Fact #3: While a person’s risk of experiencing a stroke increases with age, a stroke can occur at any age. In fact, about 38% of Americans hospitalized for a stroke each year are below the age of 65.
Fact #4: About 25% of stroke survivors remain at risk of experiencing another. Thankfully, up to 80% of second ischemic strokes can be prevented with the right lifestyle adjustments and health measures.
Fact #5: High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Blood pressure measures the force of blood against artery walls. When blood pressure is abnormally high, the arteries can become damaged and constricted, which greatly increases a person’s stroke risk.
Fact #6: As far as preventable behaviors that increase risk of stroke, smoking is the most important to highlight. Smoking makes someone four times more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers. Additionally, regular exposure to second-hand smoke can double a non-smoker’s stroke risk.
Fact #7: Certain pre-existing health conditions including heart disease, an irregular heartbeat, atherosclerosis and diabetes can make someone more susceptible to experiencing a stroke. People with these conditions need to be especially aware of their stroke risk.
Fact #8: There is such a thing as a “warning stroke.” Medically known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), this event causes someone to temporarily experience the symptoms of a stroke without causing any permanent damage. However, Roughly 1 in 3 people who experience a TIA will eventually have a stroke, often within a year, so this is not something that can be taken lightly.
Fact #9: Every second counts in the case of a stroke, meaning it’s critically important to act immediately in order to prevent serious long-term health consequences including brain damage or death. Call 911 immediately if you detect the following warning signs of a stroke (using the helpful acronym BE FAST as a reminder):
B – A sudden loss of balance or equilibrium.
E – Eye issues including sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes or seeing double.
F – Unusual drooping on one or both sides of the face, which may be caused by muscle weakness or paralysis associated with a stroke.
A – Weakness in the arms, including just feeling weakness or fatigue in one arm.
S – Having trouble speaking, or slurring words.
T – Remember that time is incredibly urgent in this situation and keeping track of when symptoms started in order to relay the most helpful information possible to the healthcare provider treating the stroke.
Fact #10: The best way to practice stroke prevention long-term is to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, understand your risk, and discuss what you can do to prevent a stroke with your healthcare provider during annual Complete Physical Wellness Exams.
We hope our readers found these facts informative. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information on stroke prevention, as well as additional health tips, news, and much more. If you would like to schedule an appointment at one of our four Atlanta area locations (Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Canton, Cumming), contact Family Practice Center.