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May Medical Alert: Timing Is Critical When Stroke Happens

May 26, 2021 By John Quaglione
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Did you know that May is Stroke Awareness Month? Do you know the signs to look for in the event a person you are with, or near, is having a stroke? 

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. That is 795,000 people a year in the United States that have a stroke. It so critical that we take time this month to learn more about strokes so we can help reduce these numbers and improve outcomes.

My paternal grandmother had a stroke at the age of 43, in 1958. While there have been tremendous advancements since then, to help people who suffer a stroke, it is something that often weighs heavy on my mind. I worry about myself enduring a stroke. So, during this Stroke Awareness Month, I think it’s important to educate and bring awareness to stroke prevention.

What are the warnings to look for in a person that may be having a stroke? There are a number of signs that are key indicators, and knowing them can make a big difference. These signs include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. Also, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, seeing or walking, a sudden severe headache, or dizziness also can be symptomatic of a stroke. 

In situations when folks are experiencing such symptoms, time is of the essence. If you are unsure if it is a stroke or not, you can quickly use a number of ways to test the individual

  • Ask them to smile, and see if their face droops.
  • Ask them to raise both arms and see if they can keep them properly elevated. 
  • Check if their speech is slurred by asking them to repeat a simple sentence. 

If you notice their body failing in any of these ways, call 9-1-1 immediately.

The most important thing that you can do is to quickly seek medical attention. The speed at which one receives medical care will improve the outcome for the stroke patient.

Stroke prevention is also something we should take time to focus on this month. 

What can we each do in our lives to reduce our chances of having a stroke? A healthy diet, low in fat and cholesterol, and with sodium limits, can help reduce your blood pressure. Because of the connection between eating habits and the potential for a stroke, a change in diet is imperative for prevention. 

We must also prevent ourselves from becoming overweight. The burden extra weight places on our bodies increases our risk for a stroke. In addition, we must incorporate physical activity into our lives such as a walk, bike ride, or spending time at a gym. This will help reduce our weight and improve our overall health. 

Finally, we must stop smoking and drinking. If you smoke, your chances of having a stroke are increased. Start the process of quitting smoking today, or this month, during Stroke Awareness Month. Research has also proven that limiting your daily alcohol intake can cause an elevation in your blood pressure. Pay attention to your drinking habits. Curb them back if they are over the top. Take better care of yourself.

As the month of May draws to a close, we must invest the time necessary to educate ourselves and others on stroke prevention. Take the time to learn about the symptoms of a stroke. Recognizing the signs of a stroke and, remembering to take immediate action, is critical. Improve your diet, increase your physical activity and rid your body of the bad habits of smoking and drinking. Your commitment to these steps can help others and reduce your own personal risk of a stroke.

As Francis Bacon once said, “knowledge is power.” In this case, knowledge has the power to save a life, or prevent severe stroke damage from forever changing one’s quality of life.

John Quaglione is the Republican Male District Leader for the 46th Assembly District in Southwest Brooklyn.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from American University and this week was awarded a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. He is a former New York City Council candidate and involved as a volunteer with the March of Dimes New York.

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