May 15, 2013
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is recognizing May as Stroke Prevention Month and High Blood Pressure Awareness Month to raise awareness about these common and dangerous conditions. Since 1989 this day has been used to try to encourage people to learn their risks about stroke, which is the 5th leading cause of death in New Hampshire.
Somewhere in the U.S. someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Stroke is responsible for 133,000 deaths in the United States each year, or one in every 18. A stroke is when a blockage causes blood flow to the brain to stop or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. This can cause life-changing complications such as paralysis, loss of mental ability, language difficulty, depression, and of course death. Strokes can happen to people of any age, not just seniors.
“Many people probably don’t think that they would ever have a stroke,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “But anyone can be at risk and many people don’t even realize they have risk factors, one of the most important being uncontrolled high blood pressure. There are things we can all do to live healthier lives and reduce our chances of stroke and other related health problems. Everyone should also be aware of the signs of a stroke whether to help themselves or someone else who may be having one.”
In New Hampshire, according to the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), 28.6% of adults reported that they have high blood pressure, 58.3% of people 65 years of age or older have high blood pressure, and 25% of people who have high blood pressure do not take medication for their condition.
In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Million Hearts™ initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. A primary focus is on the ABCS to prevent cardiovascular disease, including stroke, and contribute to overall health:
Know your ABCS of health:
- Appropriate Aspirin therapy: Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
- Blood pressure control: Keeping your blood pressure under control reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
- Cholesterol management: Get your cholesterol checked regularly and manage it with diet and physical activity or with medication, if needed.
- Smoking cessation: Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or control diabetes
- Limit your alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women)
When responding to a stroke, every minute counts. The sooner a patient receives medical treatment, the lower the risk for death or disability. If you or someone you know exhibits the following signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately for medical attention.
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
- Remember, getting immediate medical attention for stroke is crucial to preventing disability and death, so don’t delay—dial 9-1-1.
The NH Stroke Steering Committee, which is made up of state and community partners, is working on strengthening stroke systems of care through bringing partners together to implement heart and stroke activities relating to the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program objectives of reducing the prevalence of stroke and stroke deaths.
For more information about National Stroke Prevention Month, visit www.stroke.org. To learn more about stroke, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/stroke. To learn more about the Million Hearts™ initiative, visit http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html.