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Learn the signs of a stroke, take preventative measures

May is Stroke Awareness Month

Good Morning El Paso: May is Stroke...

EL PASO, Texas - May is Stroke Awareness Month, and the Hospitals of Providence wants the community to learn about the warning signs and the recommended preventative measures.

A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, and without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die, affecting the portions of the brain that control your arms, speech, vision and other functions.

The American Heart Association reports 87 percent of strokes are classified as ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel.

"Our goal is to minimize disability," said Cristina Ramirez, stroke coordinator for the Hospitals of Providence, Sierra Campus.

Ramirez said education is key to spotting the signs immediately, adding that remembering the acronym F.A.S.T. may help:

- Facial drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- To remember to call 911

Other symptoms include loss of vision and balance and sudden confusion.

An estimated 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.

While a stroke can be fatal, the AHA said it is more often disabling, leaving stroke survivors to deal with the effects. Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability.

Jacqueling Lopez, speech and language pathologist, said stroke survivors may need physical, speech and occupational therapy to recover.

"It's very important that we stress prevention and getting to hospital immediately as soon as any of the signs or symptoms of stroke occur so we can reduce the effects of the deficits," Lopez said.

"Stroke does not discriminate, everyone is at risk, but it is proven that women are more likely to have a stroke because they're living longer," Ramirez said.

Each year in the U.S., about about 55,000 more women than men have a stroke and women often have greater disabling effects.

The AHA has also reported that a woman's risk for stroke is affected by hormonal status, pregnancy, childbirth and other gender specific risk factors.

Some recommendations from the AHA includes following "Life's Simple 7" to achieve ideal health: don't smoke, be physically active, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy body weight, and control cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

The Hospitals of Providence is hosting its 2nd Annual Strides for Stroke Walk on Saturday, May 20, at the new Transmountain location.
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the walk will follow.

Health screenings and seminars will be available for free.

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