Two of the most important components of stroke for patients are understanding what we can do to prevent a stroke from occurring and recognizing symptoms associated with a stroke if it does occur.
Prevention is the key:
There are a number of things that individuals can do to reduce their risk of developing a stroke. Stroke prevention guidelines highlight the following measures patients can take to prevent a stroke:
- Know your blood pressure and seek treatment if it is elevated (greater than 140 over 90)
- Stop smoking – smoking doubles your risk of stroke
- Know your cholesterol levels and talk to your doctor if your total cholesterol is over 200
- Manage exercise/diet – exercising five times per week and maintain a diet low in salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol
- Control alcohol use – excessive consumption of more than 2 drinks per day increases stroke risk
- Control diabetes – achieve blood sugar and HgA1C goals
- Identify and treat atrial fibrillation
Identification and control of these factors can have a huge impact on reducing your stroke risk.
If a stroke does occur, the most effective treatments must be initiated as soon as possible. Understanding the signs and symptoms of stroke allow you to seek medical attention immediately. The American Stroke Association has developed the following acronym to help patients recognize symptoms:
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T- Time: If you observe any of the signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Note the time when the symptoms first appear. There are FDA-approved medications that can be given within 3 hours of stroke onset that may reduce long-term disabilities associated with a stroke.
Talk to your Tria Pharmacist or other health care provider regarding what you can do to prevent and recognize. For information about Tria Health, visit www.triahealth.com.