Filmmaker and academy award nominee John Singleton’s death at 51 years old last week from a stroke hit me right between the eyes. Perhaps it was because he was so young (when you’re over 60, everyone under that age is “young”) or maybe it was because his death so closely followed that of actor Luke Perry, who died in March at 52.
May is National Stroke Awareness month and today we need to slow down and pay attention. News reports say that Singleton had been suffering from hypertension, the silent killer, and according to the National Stroke Association, “hypertension is the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48 percent of strokes.”
According to the Association, in May alone, nearly 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke without even knowing they’re at risk, and less than a third will arrive in the emergency room within three hours, the space of time when you get best outcomes. Strokes may happen to young as well as older people–I don’t know about you, but that statement alone inspired me to call my primary care physician to make an appointment.
Strokes strike quickly and in many instances, they severely debilitate and the victims can suffer long-term effects, depending on severity and response time. Other factors–lack of exercise, smoking, diets high in fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt—put you in line for strokes and other obesity-related diseases.
Here are four things to reduce your chances of developing a stroke and premature death. Pick at least two and die at 104 from something boring like natural causes:
- If you are a smoker, try to quit. Research has shown that smokers have two to four times greater risk of having a stroke than do nonsmokers.
- Get your blood pressure checked. If your numbers are high, get moving and eat to live instead of living to eat. If 8 out of 10 people who have a stroke have hypertension, even someone who barely passed algebra can calculate the benefits of frequent checks. Cherish your good health.
- Reduce or eliminate stress and stressors. Repeating the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” is a gentle reminder that stuff happens but how you handle this stuff is the difference between life and death.
- Know the signs of a stroke so you can act and react quickly. Knowing you’re having a stroke or knowing how to help someone who is having a stroke may mean the difference between long-term effects and recovery. The National Stroke Association encourages thinking and acting FAST:
- 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 sentence. Is their speech slurred?
- T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
*Facts and figures courtesy of the National Stroke Association.
This Mother’s Day a special thank you to the moms and those who do the tough work of discipline, nurture, teaching, and making us all we are. Remember to be especially kind and sensitive to parents who’ve lost a child/grandchild, and if you’re blessed to still have your mom, (grandmother, or other mother figure) send them a mushy note. If your mom is no longer with you, do something special for a single mom or donate to one of your mom’s favorite causes.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.