If you care about someone who has survived a stroke, you know how devastating it can be. What about you? Have you considered whether you’re at risk? It’s National Stroke Awareness Month, so take this quiz and find out.
- Is your blood pressure more than 135/85? High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke.
- Do you have atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you drink alcohol beyond moderation?
- Is your cholesterol high?
- Do you have diabetes? Is it under control?
- Do you exercise for 30 minutes a day?
- Do you eat a low-sodium (salt) diet? This can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for stroke.
- Do you have circulation problems?
(Source: The Society for Vascular Surgery)
While you can’t do much about some risk factors, like your age or a family history, there are steps you can take to guard against stroke.
“You can manage some risk factors like hypertension, smoking, obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise,” says Michael Schooff, M.D., family medicine, Alegent Health Clinic in LaVista. “Talk with your physician for advice on getting some of these health issues under control.”
A stroke happens when a blood clot interrupts blood flow to the brain. This deprives part of the brain of the blood and oxygen it needs; so it starts to die. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. If you think you may be having a stroke, it’s important to get to an Emergency Department fast, says Dr. Schooff.
The Alegent Health Emergency Departments at Bergan Mercy, Immanuel, Lakeside, Mercy (Council Bluffs) and Midlands hospitals are Certified Primary Stroke Centers. This means they follow national standards and guidelines for stroke care that can significantly improve patient outcomes and limit long-term effects.
“Our Emergency Departments are able to quickly handle strokes with specific protocols, much like they manage heart attacks,” said Dr. Schooff.
If you see someone with the following symptoms of stroke, dial 911 immediately:
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- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause