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Every Minute Counts: Know the warning signs of a stroke

 

 Would you know if you or a loved one were having a stroke? When every minute counts, 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. 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.

“When someone is having a stroke, the sooner you call for help, the better,” said Dr. Larry Simon, interim senior medical director and Medicare medical director at Blue Cross. “We were taught in medical school that ‘time is brain.’ This means that people who are treated shortly after having a stroke are more likely to live through it and less likely to have ongoing, serious outcomes. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to know the warning signs and be ready to get immediate medical attention. 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 risk are:

  • Smoking and drinking
  • 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 having 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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