May marks Stroke Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about strokes and their impact on individuals’ lives. As a physician specializing in geriatric medicine with Greater Newport Physicians, I am committed to educating seniors about strokes, recognizing warning signs, and implementing preventative measures to reduce their risk.

Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, leading to damaged brain cells. This interruption can result from a blockage in an artery (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Strokes can have devastating consequences, including paralysis, cognitive impairment, and even death.

One of the most critical aspects of stroke awareness is recognizing the warning signs and acting quickly. Common symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Prevention is key when it comes to reducing the risk of strokes, particularly for seniors who may be more susceptible to cardiovascular risk factors. Preventable measures seniors can take include:

  • Manage Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for strokes. Partner with a health care provider to address hypertension through lifestyle modifications, adopting a heart-healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and, if necessary, adhering to prescribed medications.
  • Control Diabetes: Strive to manage blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, medication adherence, and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting sodium, saturated fats, and processed foods.
  • Stay Active: Regular physical activity is beneficial for cardiovascular health and can help lower the risk of strokes. Aim to engage in moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, gardening, or Tai Chi for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk of strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. Those who smoke should seek resources for smoking cessation to improve their overall health.

By raising awareness about strokes, recognizing warning signs, and implementing preventative measures, seniors can take proactive steps to reduce their risk and maintain their health and independence as they age.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (949) 559-5153.