Signs of a Stroke and Preventing One

Acting quickly is essential during a stroke because it can lessen the amount of associated brain damage[1]. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is crucial.  

Signs of Stroke in Men and Women[1]  

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. 

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech. 

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. 

  • Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination. 

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause. 

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following test [1]:  

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? 

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

If stroke patients don’t arrive at the hospital in time, they risk not being eligible for the best treatments. These options are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms [1].  

Therefore, to ensure the most effective treatment, it is important to note the time when symptoms first appeared [1]. Also, call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin lifesaving treatment as quickly as possible.  

Some stroke risk factors are out of your control, such as family history and age. However, here are seven ways to help prevent a stroke [2]:  

  1. Lower your blood pressure 

    1. High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women [2]. Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it, is likely the biggest difference people can make to their vascular health [2].  

  2. Lose weight 

    1. Obesity, as well as its associated complications (including high blood pressure and diabetes), raises your odds of having a stroke [2].  

  3. Exercise more  

    1. Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure.  

  4. If you drink – do it in moderation 

    1. Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk of stroke increases immensely [2].  

  5. Treat atrial fibrillation 

    1. Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart [2]. Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke [2].  

  6. Treat diabetes 

    1. Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them [2].  

  7. Quit Smoking 

    1. Smoking accelerates clot formation by thickening your blood and increasing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries [2].  

 

How AFSPA Can Help 

AFSPA offers multiple wellness programs that can help you lower your risk of having a stroke.  

PinnacleCare 

PinnacleCare offers a personalized, no-cost, health advisory support program for Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) members facing certain serious diagnosis such as atrial fibrillation.  

To learn more about how PinnacleCare can help, please contact FSBP’s clinical team at 800-593-2354. 

Livongo – Remote Hypertension Monitoring Program 

The Livongo-Remote Hypertension Monitoring Program is a health benefit that combines advanced technology with personalized coaching to help you easily manage high blood pressure. This program is offered at no cost to eligible FSBP members. Eligible candidates will be contacted and invited to participate in the Program. Participation is voluntary. 

Note: The Livongo mobile app is available only on the U.S. Apple Store or U.S. Google Play Store. 

For more information contact 800-945-4355 or visit Livongo's website at get.livongo.com/FSBP. 

Livongo – Remote Diabetes Monitoring Program 

The Livongo-Remote Diabetes Monitoring Program empowers those with diabetes to live a better life. You will receive personalized support through a cellular enabled meter, mobile app and personalized interventions to help you make better decisions about diabetes management. This program is offered at no cost to eligible FSBP members. Eligible candidates will be contacted and invited to participate in the Program. Participation is voluntary. 

For more information contact 800-945-4355 or visit Livongo's website at get.livongo.com/FSBP

Note: The Livongo mobile app is available only on the U.S. Apple Store or U.S. Google Play Store 

More Wellness Programs 

FSBP members have access to other wellness programs that can help with managing your weight and your overall health. Our Simple Steps to Living Well Together Program allows you to earn up to $400 in wellness rewards for participating. To learn more about these programs and to see what is offered, click here.  

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke

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