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Stroke Month: SD Deaths are Largely Preventable

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability for adults, according to the American Heart Association. (secondscount.org)
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability for adults, according to the American Heart Association. (secondscount.org)
May 10, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Keeping your arteries healthy is a major way to prevent stroke – the sixth leading cause of death in South Dakota.

Registered nurse Rebecca Holso suffered a stroke at age 27 and volunteers for the American Heart Association because she wants others to know how they can avoid a similar fate.

She says 80 percent of strokes are preventable and, depending on risk factors, may be as simple as cutting down on processed and high sodium foods or eating fewer high fat meals at restaurants.

"I am a strong believer in eating healthy and exercising or at least staying active, which will definitely help play into your prevention of stroke," she states.

Strokes are most common in adults age 50 and older and those with certain medical conditions, but Holso is proof they can occur at any age. She says obesity and smoking also increase the risk of stroke.

Because more than 7 million adults in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year, Holso says it's important when visiting your doctor that you pay attention to any red flags that might put you at risk.

"Increase in your cholesterol, increase in your blood pressure are two big factors that can play into a stroke," she points out.

Holso says treating high blood pressure is the most common controllable cause of stroke, and it needs to be managed with medication.

Holso is the rare person who has suffered a stroke in the prime of her life, but as a nurse she knew the common warning signs, including face numbness or drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty. She says if any of those signs occur, immediate medical care is critical for life saving treatment.

"I really think that education for stroke is definitely the big thing and just people realizing that it can happen to anybody," she stresses.

The American Heart Association says stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability for adults in the U.S.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD