First the bad news: Stroke is the third leading cause of death among Americans and the No. 1 cause of disability in adults.
Now the good news: 80 percent of strokes are preventable. And since Gwinnett Medical Center holds Joint Commission Certification as a Primary Stroke Center, comprehensive care is in your neighborhood.
What is stroke? Blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain become blocked or burst. When the brain cannot get enough oxygen, cells begin to die, causing disability and sometimes death.
Who’s at risk? Anyone, at any age, can have a stroke. Certain factors, including being 55 and older and being male, put you at greater risk.
Here is how you can reduce your risk for stroke:
1. Know your blood pressure. If it is too high, work with your doctor to lower it.
2. If you smoke, stop.
3. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
4. Find out if you have high cholesterol. If so, work with your doctor to control it.
5. If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
6. Include exercise in your daily routine.
7. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), and lower fat diet.
8. Find out from your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation. If so, learn how to monitor and control it.
9. Ask your doctor for any other ways to lower your individual risk of stroke.
10. Know the symptoms of stroke.
If you or a loved one has any one of these symptoms, call 911 immediately:
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
A handy way to remember these symptoms of stroke is– act F.A.S.T!
F=Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T=Time If you observe any of these signs, call 911. Time lost is brain lost.
The Center for Neuroscience at Gwinnett Medical Center and Glancy Rehabilitation Center have teamed up to offer free stroke risk screenings in the community. The screenings are scheduled throughout the year in conjunction with community health fairs to increase awareness of stroke symptoms, risk factors and prevention. To learn more about GMC’s community events and classes, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/classes.
If you’d like to schedule one of our speakers to talk about stroke to your organization or community group, call 678-312-6018. Or to learn more about stroke, its symptoms and recovery, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/stroke.