Don't Forget About Stroke During American Heart Month

Augusta, GA — Cardiovascular disease is just a fancy way to say heart disease, right? Wrong. The term cardiovascular disease actually describes diseases and conditions that affect not just your heart but also your blood vessels. During American Heart Month, it’s important that the public increases their awareness both of heart attack as well as other cardiovascular diseases like stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Risk factors for stroke include:

  • Age: Those older than 55 have an increased risk of stroke.
  • Family history: If a parent, grandparent or sibling has had a stroke, you too are at higher risk.
  • Race: African-Americans are at higher risk of stroke than Caucasians and other races.
  • Gender: While men typically suffer more strokes, women are more likely to die from strokes, due to complications related to use of birth control and pregnancy.
  • Prior stroke, TIA or heart attack: If you have already had a stroke, a transient ischemic attack (which is a mini-stroke that causes symptoms but no lasting damage) or a heart attack, your risk of a secondary stroke is increased.

If you suffer or suspect a loved one has suffered a stroke, time is of the essence. There is only a three-hour window from the onset of stroke symptoms for patients to be treated by tPA, the clot-busting drug that is recommended for most ischemic strokes. After initial treatment and stabilization in an acute-care hospital, most stroke survivors will also benefit from treatment in a rehabilitation setting. Physical, occupational and speech therapy, especially if started as soon as possible after the stroke, can help stroke survivors recover mobility, fine motor skills, swallowing and language skills more quickly.

The great thing is that the same steps you take to help prevent heart disease will also help reduce your risk of stroke. These include simple steps like:

  • Exercising
  • Eating better and losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Managing blood sugar
  • Lowering blood pressure

If you are at risk of heart attack or stroke, talk to your doctor today about how he or she can help you reduce your risk. And if you are a stroke survivor continuing to experience stroke aftereffects, talk to your doctor too. There may be therapies available to help you improve your mobility and regain more independence.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.