Your brain, like the rest of your body, needs blood flow to survive. So obviously, it isn’t great when that blood flow is blocked or interrupted. This prevents the brain from receiving vital oxygen and nutrients. Without these, brain cells begin to die quickly, meaning this is a medical emergency—one you might know better as a stroke. If you or someone you know is having a stroke, getting help should be your number one priority. Depending on how severe the stroke is and how quickly the person gets care, they may end up with lasting brain damage.
The CDC estimates that every year, nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke. Strokes kill about 1 out of every 20 people, but even for survivors they often cause disability. Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of having a stroke. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or diabetes are all risk factors. Plus, if you smoke and drink you may be at a higher risk of stroke.
People who are having a stroke may show a variety of symptoms. Trouble speaking or understanding speech is common. Paralysis or numbness in your face and limbs is also common, and often this happens on just one side of your body. Other symptoms include blurred or blackened vision, a sudden and painful headache, and difficulty walking.
One thing that can help you remember how to deal with a stroke is the acronym FAST. FAST stands for face, arms, speech, and time. Difficulty moving muscles in your face and arms as well as difficulty speaking are all stroke symptoms. Remember that time is of the essence and get help as fast as possible.
Living a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent a stroke. For example, eating healthy foods that are low in salt, fat, and cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise can help reduce your risk of stroke. Additionally, not smoking and cutting back on alcohol may help.
Medicare also offers preventative care. Once you understand any health factors that put you at risk, you can take action. This can help you lower your risk of stroke. Most people who have Medicare will pay nothing for these services. Here is the preventative care you should be taking advantage of:
By making lifestyle changes and taking advantage of Medicare’s preventative services, you may be able to lower your risk of stroke. Some studies show that these simple measures can prevent up to 80% of strokes.
Have you picked your Medicare plan for next year? Time is running out to choose your coverage! Check out this link for more information on choosing coverage.