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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

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Every year, more than 800,000 people suffer strokes in the United States, making strokes the fifth-leading cause of death in the country. While nearly 75 percent of strokes occur in people over 65, anyone can have a stroke, regardless of age or gender. Strokes are also a major cause of disability in adults.

May is set aside as National Stroke Awareness Month for people to learn the signs and symptoms to develop tactics to possibly prevent strokes.

Blocked blood flow to the brain causes strokes, which can affect a person’s movement, speech, memory and more.

Women suffer more strokes than men, and strokes kill more women. Since women tend to live longer than men, they generally have strokes when they are older. Factors that can increase strokes in women include gestational diabetes, the use of oral contraceptives, especially when combined with smoking, a history of preeclampsia/eclampsia and pregnancy. 

Improving brain health depends on controlling certain risk factors that can increase the chances of a stroke. High blood pressure, drinking, smoking, high cholesterol, lack of exercise and bad eating habits can all contribute to having a stroke, according to Medicare.gov.

A healthy lifestyle and following the guidance below could prevent up to 80 percent of strokes.

It is important for people to recognize the signs of a stroke in themselves and others and get help quickly.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Weakness in the face, arm or leg
  • Dizziness
  • Vision loss
  • Brief loss of consciousness
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