From the Director's Desk: – Stroke Awareness
African-American men and women are more likely to have a stroke than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Compared to white men, African-American men are twice as likely to have a stroke, have strokes at younger ages, die from a stroke, or have stroke-related disabilities that affect their daily activities. For African-American women, they are twice as likely to have a stroke, have strokes at younger ages and have more severe strokes than white women.
In the Hispanic community, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, they are more likely to have strokes at younger ages.
A stroke, sometimes known as a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are starved of oxygen and they die. Because a stroke could be life threatening, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The longer a stroke goes unnoticed, the greater the risk of potential brain damage or death.
Having high blood pressure, diabetes and being obese all contribute to an increased risk of stroke. Other influencers include smoking, having sickle cell anemia and eating too much salt. Researchers think there may be a gene that makes African Americans more sensitive to the effects of salt, therefore increasing their risk of high blood pressure.
Thankfully, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, staying active, talking with your doctor about your chances of having a stroke, and getting other health conditions under control could reduce your risk of stroke.
Because almost half of African Americans have a risk factor that can lead to stroke, an additional method of prevention includes the ABCS of heart health: taking Aspirin (do not take if you are having a stroke; talk with your doctor first), controlling your Blood Pressure, managing your Cholesterol, and quitting (or not starting) Smoking.
If you think you or someone else may be having a stroke, be sure to 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 drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
For more information on stroke, click here.
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