Stroke, when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked, has no age limits and younger adults are increasingly affected (photo courtesy of Abrazo Health).

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and health care professionals are stressing the importance of knowing the warning signs of stroke — a medical emergency and a leading cause of death and long-term disabilities in this country.

“Stroke is when the blood vessels to the brain become blocked by a clot or worse, burst open and bleeds out into your brain. It has no age limits, and younger adults are increasingly affected by stroke and its risk factors,” said Lisa Ziomek, stroke program coordinator at Abrazo Health.

Abrazo says that every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke, and one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. When it comes to spotting stroke symptoms, use the acronym BEFAST for recognizing a stroke.

  • B – Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance
  • E – Eyes: Check for vision loss
  • F – Face: Look for an uneven smile
  • A – Arm: Check if one arm is weak
  • S – Speech: Listen for slurred speech
  • T – Time: Call 9-1-1 right away

“Abrazo’s stroke team wants you to know that 80 percent of stroke are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes and working with your health care team to control health conditions that raise your risk for stroke such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes,” said Ziomek.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact on your risk for stroke such as choosing healthy meal and snack options, lowering your BMI, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol consumption, stop smoking and get regular checkups with your doctor.


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