POSTED: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 9:08pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 9:15pm
Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year.
Most people seem to think a stroke is related to old age, but 25% of Americans who suffer a stroke are under the age of 65.
"It's not a disease of elderly people, it can be presented in younger people," said Dr. Alejandro Betancourt, Neurosurgeon from Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.
Dr. Betancourt tells us strokes are one of the leading causes of disability right here in the valley.
"We have a community with a lot of disease like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease, high cholesterol that predispose people to have a stroke."
On average, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. Some of the signs and symptoms include headaches, numbness on one side of the body, slurred speech, because if it affects the dominant side of the vein, it's going to affect each area of the cortex.
The simple test called fast involves 4 easy-to-remember steps...face, arm, speech and time.
Every minute counts. A person having a stroke needs medical attention as soon as possible. Dr. Betancourt suggests that seeing a doctor within 8 hours or less could prevent severe damage.
“Once we have a stroke and the tissue in the brain is dead, we're going to have a patient that is going to be disabled for the rest of his life,” said Betancourt.
A few things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke include controlling your blood pressure, keeping your cholesterol low with exercise, and taking your medication for pressure.
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor in stroke. A few ways to lower your blood pressure include consuming less sodium. Switch out the salt shaker and try salt free blend of herbs. Add potassium rich foods to your diet, like bananas and sweet potatoes, and moving a little faster on your daily walk will help shave off several points on your blood pressure measures over time.