On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Stroke Association offers tips to improve wellness and prevent stroke
ROCHESTER NY — October 29 is World Stroke Day and the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, which is the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease and stroke, provides five tips to help Monroe County residents to feel healthier and avoid one of the most common causes of disability and death.
Stroke is often thought of as something that happens to older people, but more people under 50 are having strokes, due to increased risky behaviors, such as smoking and untreated high blood pressure.
Strokes don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone, at any age – and about one in four people worldwide will have one in their lifetime. In Monroe County more than 3,000 people will have a stroke this year. The good news? Up to 80 percent of first strokes may be prevented.
“Healthy habits can protect and improve brain function and lower your stroke risk. These simple suggestions are great for everyone to follow, even if you don’t think you’re likely to have a stroke,” says Mary Dombovy, MD MHSA, VP of Neuroscience, Rochester Regional Health and American Stroke Association volunteer expert. “While many adults don’t think they are at risk for stroke or reduced brain function, the reality is that nearly half of all adults in America have high blood pressure and untreated high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke and also causes up to 60 percent of dementia.”
Here are five tips to reduce your risk of stroke and maintain mental sharpness as you age:
- Keep blood pressure in mind and under control. Get your blood pressure into a healthy range (under 130/80). High blood pressure is the no. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Work with your doctor to manage it.
- Eat colorful fruits and veggies. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure over time, which can help reduce your stroke risk. Some fruits and vegetables are especially rich in vitamins and minerals that improve brain function and heart health – try mangoes, avocados and blueberries.
- Rest up. Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can improve brain function both today and long-term. Make it happen with a soothing bedtime routine and avoid screen time before bed. Sleep-related breathing issues may increase stroke risk, so seek treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or a similar problem.
- Meditate. Emerging science shows that practicing mindfulness and being aware of your breathing may significantly reduce blood pressure and may improve blood flow to the brain. A quick way to be mindful anytime is to pause, notice your breath and take in little details in your surroundings.
- Take a walk. Getting active activates brain cells, encouraging them to grow and connect more efficiently. For clear health benefits, adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination of those activities). In addition, two days per week of moderate- to- high intensity muscle strengthening activity is recommended.
“If you have had a stroke, recovery begins the moment you suspect a stroke,” said Dombovy. “The sooner a person can be treated for stroke, the more likely they are to have a successful outcome.” She advises everyone to be ready to act FAST if they suspect a stroke.
The acronym F.A.S.T. stands for:
- Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
- Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
- Time to Call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately. (Tip: Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.)
One Rochester resident who is dedicated to preventing stroke is Danelle Brownlie, wife of Gavin Brownlie, CEO Crosby Brownlie Inc., and stroke survivor.
Brownlie said, “I am not the face of stroke. You don’t typically see a 41-year-old having a stroke, but I did.” Brownlie didn’t know the warning signs of stroke until her event. “Thankfully I arrived at the hospital in time to receive the lifesaving drug. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made a full recovery. Everyone should know the warning signs and get help as soon as they think they or someone else is having a stroke,” she said.
Education about F.A.S.T is a part of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative. For more information visit www.Stroke.org/WorldStrokeDay or visit http://heart.org/rochesterny.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved visit heart.org/rochesterny. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.
For Media Inquiries:
Jackie Mangione, Regional Communications Director (mobile) 585.967.7749; (email) Jackie.Mangione@heart.org