What sacrifice would you make to save your mother’s life? Would you jump in front of a car, attempt to fight off a great white shark, or take a bullet from a sniper? With Mother’s Day already here, I’ve taken the time to reflect on the importance of family and health during American Stroke Month. Saving your mother’s life hopefully doesn’t have to be this extreme. It could simply be done by saying, “Mom, I love you and I wish that you would stop smoking and decrease your chances of having a stroke!” Fortunately, my parents are alive, doing well, exercising regularly, and don’t smoke. A fair number of my patients, friends, and colleagues have a loved one who has suffered a stroke and either died or is surviving with significant disabilities.

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds and approximately every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. About 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. Of those, 137,000 will die. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in our country and the leading cause of long term disability among U.S. adults. In 2010, Americans spent over $73 billion dollars for stroke-related medical costs. Contrary to popular belief, strokes are not inevitable. In fact, eighty percent of strokes are preventable. Unfortunately as a physician, I often treat patients “after” the stroke has occurred. The disability that results from a stroke is devastating to the patient and the family. Regardless, many still continue to smoke, avoid being physically active, don’t take their medicines as prescribed, and forget about scheduling regular visits with their doctor thinking they be unaffected by stroke.

Prevention is the answer to this problem and raising awareness about stroke is a very important part of this equation. We can address this by lowering our blood pressures with balanced meals, exercise, and medication if necessary; reducing our sodium intake by at least 1200mg per day and eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Health is our most important worldly possession. We must be conscious of our minds and bodies during this Mother’s Day celebration. It is imperative that we tell our mother’s and loved ones how much we care about them and to take charge of their lives today. We all have the Power to End Stroke, but we can’t do it without knowledge. For more information, go to strokeassociation.org and get involved. You have the Power! I love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!


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The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.