By New Horizons Healthcare
This month as you plan to celebrate some of the women in your lives for Mother’s Day, please recognize that May is Stroke Awareness Month. Let the holiday be a reminder to check on the special women in your life and be sure they are aware of the risks and the signs of stroke. Stroke, in some cases, can be preventable with early intervention and lifestyle changes. Chances are if you are a Black or Hispanic woman aged 65 years or older you either know someone who has had a stroke, or you may have experienced this often-debilitating condition yourself. Black and Hispanic women are, on average, are50 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Hispanic white women according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Although minority men also are more susceptible to stroke in comparison to their white counterparts, the incidence of strokes among women of color has been increasing over the past several years. And If you are under the age of 65 then you might have noticed that the incidence of stroke has been occurring more frequently in younger women of color.
What is a stroke?
As you may know, a stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack” as it occurs when either a clot is formed in the brain (Ischemic) or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain causing blood to leak into the brain (Hemorrhagic). There are several risk factors that increase the chances of stroke: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cigarette smoking. By eliminating or reducing these stroke-contributing factors and adopting a more active lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits you may be able to avoid having a stroke in the future.
Other stroke factors
There are other factors among women of color that lead to higher incidences of stroke. According to a study performed by the American Heart Association, other risk factors involving women of color come into consideration that affect access to healthcare:
“We’re still seeing these racial disparities, which makes us consider, what else is it about being a Black woman in the U.S. that is detrimental to your health? It is tough to answer but may partly be due to ‘structural racism’ and how that changes a person’s ability to access all health care options. This isn’t just a problem for Black women, she stresses. It’s important for us as a society to realize when one group has poor health outcomes, everyone suffers.”
What to look for
Some stroke symptoms are common to both men and women while others seem to be unique to women. Some Common stroke symptoms include:
But women may report other symptoms, according to the AHA:
When it comes to recognizing the signs of stroke, remember to think F.A.S.T:
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?Speech
Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, cigarette smoking, as well as the unexpressed factors that contribute to racial disparities should be acknowledged and addressed to help prevent strokes and promote a healthier community. If you are concerned about your health and are currently dealing with these risk factors, consult with your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact New Horizons Healthcare and make an appointment today at 540-362-0360. New Horizons Healthcare provides culturally appropriate, affordable, high-quality and comprehensive healthcare to the underserved people in the greater Roanoke area.