May marks National Stroke Awareness Month, and this year the National Stroke Association is turning the spotlight on the modifiable risk factors that account for 90% of strokes globally. Hypertension remains the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes. With eight in 10 people experiencing their first stroke having hypertension, getting your blood pressure checked is an important step in controlling your stroke risk.

During National Stroke Awareness Month, the Palatine Fire Department is urging everyone to look at their modifiable stroke risk factors, and pledge to make at least one change to reduce their stroke risk. Risk factors include; hypertension, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, high blood fats (Lipids), stress, and diabetes.

Beyond reducing your risk for stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are equally important. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke and around 800,000 people will have a stroke in the United States this year alone.

Stroke FAST Acronym

The acronym FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of a stroke:

F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred?

T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

A common misconception is that strokes occur only in older adults. Although, your stroke risk increases with
age, a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. Despite being a leading cause of adult long-term disability, and the fifth leading cause of death, less than one in five Americans can correctly classify all five stroke symptoms. The time to take action is now. This May, during National Stroke Awareness month, get to know your stroke risk factors and learn to better identify the signs and symptoms of stroke. The life you save just might be your own. For more information visit www.stroke.org.