May Is National Stroke, High Blood Pressure Month

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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May is National Stroke and High Blood Pressure Month, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is seeking to increase public awareness of how to improve prevention and control of stroke and high blood pressure.

High blood pressure affects nearly 1 in 3 adults in the U.S., and is a major risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140, or diastolic blood pressure 90 or higher, measured in millimeters of mercury on a blood pressure gauge. The goal of treatment is to lower blood pressure to less than 120/80.

Smoking is also an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk.

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Kansas, accounting for about 1 in 16 deaths in 2007.

According to the American Stroke Association, about 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means a stroke occurs every 40 seconds, on average.

The warning signs of stroke appear suddenly, and can include any or all of the following:

* Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
* Confusion; trouble speaking or understanding
* Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
* Severe headache with no known cause

Being able to recognize these symptoms can save your life. If you recognize the signs of stroke in yourself or another person, call 9-1-1 immediately and get to a hospital quickly.

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