Each year Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, celebrating the culture, contributions and history of Latinos. The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, empowers Latinos to take time during this celebration to learn about –and take action to reduce—their personal risk factors for stroke, the No. 5 leading cause of death.
Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain and occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.
The American Stroke Association notes that an estimated 80% of strokes may be prevented if people started taking better care of themselves. This includes making healthy lifestyle choices like eating better and moving more. While some stroke risk factors can’t be helped, like family history, race or age, most can be modified, treated or controlled, including obesity, smoking, uncontrolled blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Yet over 75% Hispanics, age 20 and older, are considered overweight or obese while nearly 30% of Hispanics suffer with high blood pressure. Studies suggest that nearly 50% of Hispanics have high cholesterol while over 80% of Hispanic age 18 and older do not meet the Federal Physical Activity Guidelines.
Through the American Heart Association’s scientific research, the EmPowered To Serve movement and the efforts of passionate volunteers, Latinos – the largest growing population in the U.S. at 54 million — have better access to culturally-relevant resources to prevent heart disease and stroke and are positively impacting health outcomes in their communities for generations and celebrations to come.
The American Stroke Association recommends setting up an appointment with your doctor to discuss ways to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association\American Stroke Association also provides a free online resource called My Life Check which provides a personal assessment for the risk of stroke and offers suggestions on tips to reduce these risk. This free assessment is available in English by visiting www.mylifecheck.org or in Spanish by visiting www.marcando7pasos.org/.
The American Stroke Association also urges everyone to learn the warning signs of a stroke by remember the simple acronym FAST:
- Facial Drooping
- Arm Weakness
- Speech Difficulty
- Time to Cal 9-1-1
For more information in either English or Spanish, visit strokeassociation.org