GAINESVILLE, Ga. – May is Stroke Awareness Month. Why do you need to know about stroke? Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. In fact, the American Stroke Association estimates that this year alone, someone will have a stroke every four seconds, totaling 795,000 strokes. Sadly, about 80 percent of these strokes are preventable.
Many stroke risk factors can be managed or controlled. Below are some risk factors and ways to reduce your risk of stroke:
- High blood pressure: This is the leading risk factor for stroke. Work with your healthcare provider (HCP) to keep your blood pressure below 140/90. If you have diabetes or have had a heart attack in the past, it should stay below 130/80.
- High cholesterol: Keep your LDL (“bad cholesterol”) below 100. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help. If more is needed, your HCP may advise medication.
- Diabetes: Manage your diet and blood sugar to keep your A1C less than seven percent and your glucose before meals between 70 and 130.
- Atrial fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation (a-fib) is a particular type of abnormal heart rhythm that may cause blood clots to be released into your bloodstream. A person with a-fib is five times more likely to have a stroke. If you have a-fib, work closely with your HCP to manage the risks, take the appropriate medication and have follow-up blood tests, if needed.
- Tobacco use/smoking: Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. Set a quit date and stick to it. Call the free Georgia Quit Line at 877-270-7867 for assistance (Spanish – 877-266-3863). Talk to your HCP about medications that may help you quit.
- Alcohol use: If you drink, keep alcohol consumption light to moderate. This means no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for non-pregnant women. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
- Physical inactivity: A walking program (30-minute walk, five times or more per week) can reduce your stroke risk.
Symptoms of a possible stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache
What should you do? Call 911! Don’t try to drive the person to the hospital in a private car. For more information about stroke symptoms, risk factors and prevention, visit www.stroke.org.
About Stroke Care at Northeast Georgia Medical Center
Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) offers a comprehensive approach to stroke care, from early intervention treatments in the Emergency Department to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services to help patients regain function and independence.
NGMC is a Primary Stroke Center accredited by DNV Healthcare. NGMC received certification after an audit of its stroke patient outcomes, care processes, facilities and staff by DNV.
NGMC also recently received the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for the third consecutive year. The award recognizes NGMC’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.
For more information about NGMC’s stroke program, visit www.nghs.com/stroke or call 770-219-3840.