May is National Stroke Awareness Month, when health care professionals stress that the importance of knowing the signs of stroke — a medical emergency and a leading cause of death and long-term disabilities in this country.
Stroke is when the blood vessels to the brain become blocked by a clot or worse, burst open and bleeds out into your brain. It has no age limits, and younger adults are increasingly affected by stroke and its risk factors.
Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke, and one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. When it comes to spotting stroke symptoms, use the acronym “BEFAST” for recognizing a stroke:
B for Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance
E for Eyes: Check for vision loss
F for Face: Look for an uneven smile
A for Arm: Check if one arm is weak
S for Speech: Listen for slurred speech
T for Time: Call 911 right away
Valley residents have access to advanced stroke centers including Abrazo West Campus, a primary plus stroke center, and Abrazo Central Campus, a comprehensive stroke center. Abrazo Arrowhead and Abrazo Scottsdale Campuses are also primary stroke centers.
Abrazo West Campus and Abrazo Central Campus both offer stroke support groups that meet once a month. They are a welcoming place for stroke survivors and their families to talk about their experiences. Access to a caring support network is important in the recovery process for those affected by stroke.
Abrazo’s stroke team wants you to know that 80% of strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes and working with your health care team to control health conditions that raise your risk for stroke such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact on your risk for stroke such as choosing healthy meal and snack options, lowering your BMI, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol consumption, stop smoking and get regular checkups with your doctor.
For more information on neurosciences services or stroke support groups, visit AbrazoHealth.com.
Editor’s note: Amanda Rowell, RN, is stroke program coordinator at Abrazo West Campus.
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