Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke, which is why recognizing May as American Stroke Month is so important. While stroke has fallen from the third-leading cause of death in this country to fifth, its devastating effects make stroke the leading cause of long-term disability.
Fortunately, many of the risk factors for stroke are controllable by making better lifestyle choices when it comes to our diet and exercise.
Something we can all be aware of is our blood pressure. Overall, one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and African-Americans in particular have the highest blood pressure in the world.
Seventy-five percent of people who suffer a first stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm HG. The American Heart Association considers normal blood pressure to be 120/80.
What can you do this month? First, get your blood pressure checked. If it’s higher than 120/80, talk with a doctor about how to bring it back into the normal range. Sometimes that will require medication, but sometimes a healthier diet and more physical activity are all that is needed.
Make May a month to reduce your risk for stroke.
Dr. Jerry Smartt, Neurologist
American Heart Association Board of Directors