Knowing the risks and signs of stroke saves lives

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is commemorating World Stroke Day on Oct. 29 by emphasizing the importance of preventing stroke.

The ASA reminds us that strokes to happen to anyone at any age, but up to 80% could be prevented. World Stroke Day efforts will include a focus on controlling high blood pressure, because it’s the leading preventable cause of stroke. About half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and only 25% have it under control.

These tips can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range (120/80) — and lower your stroke risk: 

  • Join the team. Work with your doctor and other health care professionals to manage your blood pressure through lifestyle changes and/or medication. 
  • Take medications as prescribed. If you have been prescribed blood pressure medications, take them as prescribed.  Check the labels on over the counter cold or flu medications, as some may elevate your blood pressure.  If you have high blood pressure, NSAIDs may cause elevated blood pressure, consider acetaminophen instead.
  • Eat colorful fruits and veggies. A heart-healthy diet may help lower blood pressure over time.
  • Rest up. Getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night can improve brain function. Sleep-related breathing issues may increase stroke risk, so seek treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or a similar problem. 
  • Meditate. Practicing mindfulness and being aware of your breathing may significantly reduce blood pressure.  
  • Be active. Adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination). Two days per week of moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity is also recommended.

In addition to managing your own risks, the ASA advises all people to be ready to save a life by remembering the most common stroke warning signs using the acronym FAST – F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty and T for time to call 911.

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