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Gearing up for May: American Stroke Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month

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Gearing up for May: American Stroke Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month

As April comes to a close (we still hope you are moving more!), wanted to get you excited about and geared up for May. May is American Stroke Month and High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. What a great reminder to eat smart, move more, and be well!

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DYK: Stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of preventable disability. 

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time. In fact, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Calling 911 is the fastest proven way to access treatment because hospitals are set up to treat stroke patients arriving by ambulance.  The good news? One way to prevent a stroke is by paying attention to your blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure is the most common controllable cause of stroke. Do you know the signs of high blood pressure? It’s a trick question — because HBP, also known as the “silent killer,” typically has no symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to check your blood pressure and take steps to control your numbers. Recent guidelines redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80. (The standard was 140/90.)3 Under recent guidelines, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.3 That’s why it is important to regularly get your blood pressure checked – millions of Americans have high blood pressure but don’t even know it. 

One way to prevent high blood pressure: get smart about sodium! 

Adjusting your habits now can help you avoid a high blood pressure diagnosis and stay strong for the future. Here are five tips to get started:

  1. Eat a heart-healthy diet.  That involves eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also means including low- and non-fat dairy, skinless poultry, fish, beans and legumes, nontropical vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. At the same time, you want to watch for and limit salt and sodium, added sugar, sugary drinks, sweets, and fatty or processed meats (choose lean or extra-lean meats instead). 

    Some food companies add sodium to processed and restaurant food before it even reaches your table. That’s why the American Heart Association is looking for the ways that you choose healthier processed and restaurant food. Enter our “Outsmart Eating Out” Contest! Winners will be announced on World Hypertension Day, May 17, 2018.

  2. Cutting out excess sodium. About half the U.S. adult population faces increased risk of high blood pressure due to excess sodium, particularly black people; people over age 50; and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. And, more than 70% of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods. 

    Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, cutting back on excess salt can be beneficial. Blood pressure naturally increases as people get older, but cutting back on sodium can limit or delay that process. By one estimate, 90 percent of all American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.

  3. Limiting alcohol. Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressureobesitystroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.)

  4. Avoid tobacco. You probably know about the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, but did you know smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke and other chronic lung diseases? Want to learn more? Get ready to quit smoking.

  5. Move morePeople of all ages and abilities benefit from being more active. Regular activity may help lower your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. It’s a great way to deal with stress. And staying active can boost energy, mood, and overall wellbeing. Make a list of the benefits that matter most to you and keep it where you can review it often.

Learn more about American Stroke Month at: www.StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth 

What will be your focus in May? Let us know in the comments!