About 795,000 people have a stroke every year and it’s become the fourth leading cause of death in the country. The good news is up to 80% of strokes are preventable and if one occurs, it is possible to treat and recover.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It’s a good time to review the facts and information about strokes so you can better understand the risks – for you or someone you love.
Getting smarter about strokes is crucial as time can be a major factor in preventing disability or death. Learn how to identify them when they are happening — and get help fast.
Here are five things to know about strokes:
- A stroke is also known as a brain attack. It happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, causing brain tissue to become damaged or even die. There are two types of strokes. An ischemic stroke, the more common type, is when there’s a blockage of a blood vessel that supplies the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke is when a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain.
- Because of this, a stroke can have a huge effect on many functions of your body, including speech and movement. Strokes reduce mobility in more than half of stroke survivors 65 and over. In fact, they are a leading cause of serious long-term disabilities among this population.
“It is very important to understand what the warning signs for a stroke can be,” said Dr. Philip Painter, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “Getting care early in the course of a stroke can significantly reduce disability and even the chances of dying from the stroke.”
- If you know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and act quickly, it can mean the difference between life or death. If you see or have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away:
— Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg — especially on one side of the body
— Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
— Sudden problems seeing in one eye or both eyes
— Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or trouble walking
— Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Older adults may be at an increased risk of having a stroke. However, there are several ways you can help prevent strokes, including:
— Keep your blood pressure under control
— Quit smoking, which increases your risk of a stroke
— Eat healthy foods, like those low in cholesterol and saturated fat, plus lots of fruits and vegetables
— Make exercise part of your daily routine
- Strokes can be treatable. Physical and occupational therapy are the most common forms of rehabilitation, helping patients regain their ability to move and relearn daily activities. Speech therapy also can help someone who suffered a stroke to recover some or all of their language skills.
To learn more about strokes and stroke prevention, as well as how to reduce your own risk, contact your health care provider. For more health and wellness information, visit UHCMedicareNewsroom.com.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a doctor. Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or making changes to your lifestyle or health care routine.