May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a major cause of disability for adults. Approximately 795,000 people have a stroke each year.

Stroke prevention is key

Image Female Doctor Talkingto Female Patient Image Female Doctor Talkingto Female Patient Image Female Doctor Talkingto Female Patient

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and although we address strokes periodically throughout the year it is good to have sharpened attention to this often-times deadly problem. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a major cause of disability for adults. Approximately 795,000 people have a stroke each year. 

Some stroke risk factors are out of your control: 

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Family history of strokes

Strokes ARE preventable. Keep these diseases and conditions in control to reduce your risk for a stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol

Know the warning signs for a stroke and then act FAST. As they say time lost is brain lost.

F: Face drooping

A: Arm weakness

S:  Speech difficulty

T: Time to call 9-1-1

There are other signs that someone is having a stroke: 

  • Confusion
  • Having trouble speaking
  • Numbness in arms, legs or face, especially on just one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking or dizziness
  • Sudden headache

If you have high blood pressure, keep it well-controlled. It is the leading cause of stroke and the most controllable risk factor for a stroke. Regular exercise, a healthy weight and moderation with salt also help to control high blood pressure and reduce stroke risk. Have a fresh, from-scratch diet as much as you can with lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, nuts and healthy fats. 

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.