Would you know if you or a loved one were having a stroke? When acting fast could save a life, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds you that it’s important to recognize the signs. May is National Stroke Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to learn about strokes and how you can lower your risk.

 A stroke is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. This can affect your speech, movement and memory. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nationwide, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, with someone dying from a stroke every 3.5 minutes. Strokes are a leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. Louisiana is among the states with the highest death rates from strokes.

 “One of the most important things to remember when someone is having a stroke is that ‘time is brain,’” said Dr. Larry Simon, associate lead medical director at Blue Cross. “This means that the sooner someone is treated after having a stroke, the more likely they are to both survive it and experience the fewest long-term neurological problems like paralysis and memory loss. Take some time to learn the warning signs of stroke and don’t delay in getting help if you or a loved one show these signs. You could save a life.”

 

Warning signs of a stroke include:

 

• Weakness in the face,

   arm or leg

• Difficulty speaking

• Vision loss

• Dizziness

• Brief loss of

  consciousness

 

If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911.

 

Strokes can happen at any age, but your risk is higher if you’re over 65. Other things that can increase your stroke risk are:

 

• Smoking or using

  tobacco products

• Drinking too much

  alcohol

• High blood pressure

• High cholesterol

• Diabetes

• Often eating foods

 high in salt, saturated

  fat or sugar

 

People who have already had a stroke can be at a higher risk for future strokes. The good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes could be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, nutritious eating habits and quitting or avoiding tobacco.

 Talk to your primary care provider about what you can do to avoid a stroke. Your annual wellness visit is the perfect time to ask how you can stay healthy. If you’ve had a stroke before, ask how you can lower your risk of this happening again. Your provider may prescribe medication to help keep your numbers for blood pressure or other indicators in a healthy range. If you are prescribed medication, take it exactly as your provider tells you to.

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