May is Stroke Awareness Month

by Crystal Welch, MSN, HHQI RN Project Coordinator

exclamation pointA stroke is serious, just like a heart attack. According to NIH Senior Health, stoke occurs in all age groups but nearly three-quarter of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. Each year in the United States, approximately 795,000 people have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. On average, one American dies from stroke every four minutes. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease.

Stoke can be preventable and early recognition of the signs of stroke can save lives. The FAST Test is an easy way to remember the symptoms of a stroke and what to do about it.

  • 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 phrase. Is their speech slurred?
  • T (Time): If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

ABCs of Heart HealthHypertension, or high blood pressure, is a wide spread, chronic disease that can damage arteries throughout the body. Weakened arteries in the brain put you at a much higher risk for stroke. The national Million Hearts® initiative has set its sights on preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. At the cornerstone of the initiative is ABCS. ABCS represents the pillars of preventive cardiovascular care — Aspirin as Appropriate, Blood Pressure Control, Cholesterol Management, and Smoking Cessation. By developing resources, tools and partnerships that focus on improvements in these four areas, the national Million Hearts® initiative has already made great strides in dramatically reducing heart disease in this country.

Home health professionals are an integral part of many of their patients’ lives – sometimes seeing them daily – and often develop an exceptional level of trust with their patients. This puts home health agencies in a unique position to make a big impact on our nation’s cardiovascular health. For more information and resources on patient self-management for stroke, take a look at HHQI’s Best Practice Intervention Packages (BPIP’s):

HHQI developed a patient video titled “Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack or Stoke?” Watch the video on YouTube and make sure to check out the My Healthy Heart Workbook for patients – also available in Spanish.

Other free resources include fact sheets addressing health disparities (African Americans and High Blood Pressure and Hispanics and High Blood Pressure).

Don’t Forget: World No Tobacco Day is May 31 – The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners promote World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) every year on May 31, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Click here for more information.

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