Get stroke smart: You could save a life – and it could be your own

(BPT) – Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has some type of stroke. Even though stroke is a leading cause of disability in America, it is largely preventable and treatable. As May is American Stroke Month, it’s the perfect time to brush up on the facts to stay as healthy as possible.

Bayer Aspirin is a national sponsor of the American Stroke Association’s Together To End Stroke initiative, which aims to educate and empower people to make simple lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of another stroke. Arming people with information about stroke is one step in achieving this goal.

One in every four clot-related (ischemic) strokes happens after a prior stroke. Fortunately, up to 80 percent of recurrent clot-related (ischemic) strokes can be prevented with the right steps.

“There are simple things you can do to help prevent another stroke such as managing blood pressure and cholesterol, stopping smoking, eating healthy, staying active, and a doctor-directed aspirin regimen,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, M.D., a Seattle-based primary care internist, national board member for the American Heart Association and former chair for the American Stroke Association Advisory Committee. “It is important to raise awareness so that everyone understands the facts around stroke.”

So understand your risks and ask your doctor about an aspirin regimen. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Here are some stroke myth-busters that could not only help save your life but also help save the life of someone you love.

Myth: Strokes won’t happen to me

Clot-related (ischemic) strokes are the most common type of stroke, accounting for 87 percent of all cases. They happen when a blockage interrupts the flow of blood to the brain. Every year, nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke, which is actually the same as the annual number of heart attacks; that’s why managing your risks is so important.

Myth: Men and women have the same risks for stroke.

More women than men have some type of stroke each year. A stroke can happen to a woman at almost any age – even to women in their 20s. This year alone, more than 100,000 U.S. women under 65 will suffer some kind of stroke. Most women don’t realize that the medical regimen they receive for other conditions can increase the risk of stroke. Many of those strokes can be avoided by simply being aware of the risks and talking with your doctor to make the appropriate changes. For example, birth control pills could double the stroke risk for women compared to women who don’t take birth control pills.

Myth: All races or ethnicities have the same risk factors.

Not all races and ethnicities have the same risk factors. The risk of stroke among African American men is actually twice as high as Caucasian men. According to the American Stroke Association, the prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans is the highest in the world. Not only is high blood pressure more severe in African-Americans, but it also develops earlier in life. Getting your blood pressure checked regularly is one of the easiest things you can do to manage your risk of stroke.

Myth: I’m already taking prescription medications, that should be enough.

Prescription medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may not be enough to reduce your risk of another clot-related (ischemic) stroke. These conditions raise the risk of stroke as well as heart attack. And while you may take prescription medications to manage these conditions, they may not be enough to protect your heart. Adding aspirin, which works differently, to your treatment plan may further help prevent another heart attack or ischemic stroke.

Myth: There’s nothing I can do to prevent a stroke.

Fifty percent of stroke risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle choices. Some tips on how include:

* Get fit and stay active

* Eat healthy

* Control your cholesterol

* Control your blood pressure

* Quit smoking

* Ask your doctor about an aspirin regimen*

*Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Visit for more information and resources about preventing another stroke.