Preventative steps can be taken against stroke

LAWRENCEVILLE — Strokes can seemingly strike without warning — but that doesn't mean preventative steps can't be taken.

May is American Stroke Month, and awareness and such preventative measures are being stressed.

"Stroke can sometimes be a very scary topic that aging seniors don't want to talk or even think about, but it's important for concerned family members to realize that stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States," said Peter Ross, the CEO of Senior Helpers, a national organization for in-home elderly care.

"And the risks go up drastically with age."

Almost 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year, with 75 percent of those in seniors over the age of 65. According to the Alliance for Aging Research, the chances of having a stroke double each decade after turning 55.

Seniors living in the Southeast are more at risk than individuals in most other geographic regions, the American Stroke Association reports.

To reduce these risks, doctors recommend exercising regularly to reduce high blood pressure, avoiding high fat and cholesterol foods, reducing sodium intake and quitting smoking.

Warning signs include sudden numbness of the face, arms or legs, trouble seeing, loss of balance and sudden severe headaches without cause.

"Most stroke survivors still enjoy a very high quality of life, but most also require an extra pair of hands around the house the help out," Ross said.