May is National Stroke Awareness Month

Every 40 seconds in the U.S. someone has a stroke. Strokes affect people of all ages and backgrounds and the numbers of deadly strokes amount to one person every four minutes. Strokes are sometimes called “Brain Attacks” because, like a heart attack, it is caused when a blockage stops the flow of blood to an area of the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts and blood flow is interrupted.

Although people think that strokes are usually caused in older people, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than 65. Each year in the U.S. almost 800,000 people have a stroke. Often these incidents lead to serious life changing complications. These aftermath complications can include paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, difficulties with thinking, awareness attention, learning judgment and memory, problems understanding or forming speech, difficulty expressing or controlling emotions, numbness or odd sensations, pain in the hands or feet and depression.

Although there are certain unchangeable factors such as family history, age, sex and ethnicity that all play a role in one’s risk for stroke, there are other modifiable factors that we can control to reduce our chance of stroke. Cigarette smoking contributes to one in every five strokes in the United States. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can thicken your blood and make it more likely to clot. Thicker blood can lead to increased plaque buildup in the arteries and damage the blood vessels leading to the brain.

Here are the ABCs of stroke avoidance. Appropriate Aspirin therapy. Your doctor will tell you if you should be taking Aspirin to keep your blood flowing better. Blood pressure control. More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels. Cholesterol management. Manage your cholesterol with exercise and diet or, if necessary, medication. To manage the ABCs, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium, sugar and fat, maintain a healthy weight, prevent or control your diabetes, and limit your alcohol intake. Men should not have more than two drinks per day and women should not take more than one drink per day.

When responding to a stroke, time is of the essence! Every minute counts! The symptoms of a stroke are numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech, trouble seeing with either or both eyes, difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination and a sudden severe headache. Getting immediate medical attention for someone who may be experiencing a stroke can prevent disability and or death. The National Stroke Association places emphasis on making the public aware of the importance of acting FAST. FAST is an acronym for things to check if you suspect that someone is experiencing a stroke. Check the Face, Does it droop on one side? and check the Arm. After raising both arms, does one arm drift downward? Ask the person to repeat a Simple sentence. Can they do it? Do they understand speech? Is their speech impaired? And T is for Time, if any of these symptoms are present, act FAST and call 911 because quick medical attention can help avoid some of the aftermath complications of stroke. The National Stroke Association also notes that more than 80 percent of strokes can be avoided by making better lifestyle choices.

With a population that is growing older, it is estimated that by 2030 in the U.S., 72 million people will be 65 and older as well as more racially diverse. Here are some fast facts about strokes. Women have more strokes than men. The risk of stroke in children is highest in their first year, and during the time-frame right before birth and right after birth. Stroke remains among the top 10 causes of death in children. Minorities in the U.S. have higher than average risk of stroke. I advocate healthy living choices such as good, wholesome, clean food, a strategic exercise plan and stress reduction. We may not be able to choose our heritage but we can choose our lifestyle. Choose wisely! Aloha, Jane!


Jane Riley is a certified nutritional adviser. She can be reached at, or 212-1451, or



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.