Healthy Living

140,000 Americans are killed by stroke each year, even though it's largely preventable

Emergency room physicians and hospital officials in Maryland say they have become overwhelmed with patients in need of treatment for mental health or substance use problems. (James Crawford/Dreamstime/TNS)
Emergency room physicians and hospital officials in Maryland say they have become overwhelmed with patients in need of treatment for mental health or substance use problems. (James Crawford/Dreamstime/TNS)

How stroke-aware are you?

Perhaps you know the warning signs — sudden numbness on one side of the body, trouble speaking, sudden blurred vision, trouble walking — or know someone who has experienced a stroke.

There’s never a bad time to brush up on stroke awareness, and May — National Stroke Awareness Month — is a good time to get up to speed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is our fifth-leading cause of death, accounting for 140,000 fatalities each year. It’s also largely preventable. Although things such as family history and age can increase stroke risk, up to 80 percent of strokes can be sidestepped with lifestyle changes that include controlling blood pressure and quitting smoking.

The National Stroke Association’s Stroke Awareness Month website can help you learn how to identify and prevent a stroke, and spread the word. The site offers resources on stroke and ways to tell a friend via social media or free e-cards.

Another way to up your stroke awareness without putting down your phone or leaving your desk is to visit Stroke Connection, a virtual magazine. Co-produced by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, it can be found via a free app or at strokeconnection.strokeassociation.org. The quarterly includes articles on risk management and stroke treatment, and information for stroke survivors.

Speaking of survival, there’s another resource for people who have been through a stroke. The Hand in Hand Show podcast — free and updated weekly — is produced and hosted entirely by stroke survivors and caregivers. Episodes cover such questions as “Why me?” along with ways to heal after a stroke and the unique stories of people who have been through a stroke and people who care for them. You can hear episodes, which clock in at around 30 minutes, at handinhandshow.com or via iTunes or Google Play.

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