By Roger Caldwell
The challenge of stroke in America is still a sickness that many refuse to discuss and admit they have struggled with. May is stroke awareness month, and there are very small groups engaged in sharing their issues with the disease. Something is wrong with the healthcare system when so many Americans do not know the correct numbers for good high blood pressure numbers, and 80% of strokes are preventable.
As a Black man I had a stroke at 54, and there were at least 20 ways I could have avoided a stroke. My lack of knowledge was a determining factor of why I had a stroke. All Americans by the time they are 12 years old should know the importance, and what the numbers represent.
The healthcare system is broken because young Americans go to the doctor and the nurses or the doctors don’t explain or don’t have the time to educate what the numbers represent. Since most young children have no idea what the numbers represent, the adults also don’t know.
When the nurse or the healthcare assistant takes your blood pressure numbers, many times they don’t tell the patient, because they don’t ask. Also, the patient many times has no idea what a good number is, or what is a bad number. Taking your blood pressure is very simple, and every American in every home should know how to take their pressure.
There are two numbers, the higher number being the systolic, and the lower number being the diastolic. The first number called systolic measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number called the diastolic measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rest between beats. The higher number should be 120, and the lower number should be 80.
Everyone is at risk to have a stroke, but Black people have the greatest risk for having a stroke than any other race or culture. Most strokes involve a clot that blocks blood to your brain. Every minute counts when blood or oxygen is not getting to the brain.
There are generally warning signs before an individual has a major stroke that can cause disability, brain damage, or death. The warning sign start with mini-strokes (TIA’s –Transient Ischemic Attack), and eventually the condition deteriorates, and at any time a stroke can occur.
There are four letters F A S T, which indicate an individual is having symptoms of a stroke. It starts with the face drooping, arms are weak, difficulty speaking, and time by calling 911 immediately.
According to the Office of Minority Health, if you’re a Black man in United States, your risk for stroke is 50% higher than a White man. You’re also 70% more likely to die from it.
If you’re a Black woman, you are twice as likely to have a stroke as a White woman and 30% more likely to die. Black people have the highest mortality rate from stroke of any racial group and are more likely to be disabled afterward. Black people are more at risk because of higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and our diet.
It is very easy for Blacks to place the blame on genetics, but how many Blacks on a weekly basis know their numbers. There should be healthy discussions around the country during stroke awareness month, and Black folks should be educating themselves.
All Americans should know their numbers, especially the Black race. A healthy diet and exercise is a major key to improving your health, which improves your high blood pressure numbers. Begin the conversation and discussion about stroke awareness, and start with your family.
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