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Have a chronic condition? Know your stroke risk

Stroke, which happens when blood flow is cut off to the brain suddenly, can happen to anyone. But if you have a chronic condition, your stroke risk may increase, and that’s all the more reason you should talk to your doctor. Because of its rapid onset, stroke can be scary – and deadly. In fact, it’s the fifth most common cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

Should you be concerned?

If you have a health condition that impacts your blood flow, you may have an increased stroke risk. These conditions include:

  • Atrial fibrillation

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Obesity

  • Peripheral artery disease (narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to the leg and arm muscles that is caused by plaque buildup on blood vessel walls)

  • Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (also called a TIA or a mini stroke)

  • Sickle cell disease and other bleeding disorders

Other factors

Even if you don’t have a chronic health condition, you may be at risk for a stroke, especially if you have a family history of it.

Other risk factors include smoking, stress, eating an unhealthy diet, not getting enough physical activity, using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (other than aspirin) and using birth control pills.

Identifying a stroke when it happens

If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, immediately call 911. Remembering the word “FAST” can help you identify the symptoms of stroke:

F: Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop, or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?

A: Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T: Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911.

Have you had a stroke?

You may be eligible to participate in Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s Case Management program. Call Member Services on the back of your member ID card to learn more about this program.

Sources: American Stroke Association, WebMD

This information has been created and supplied to you courtesy of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The information is general in nature and is intended to provide you with increased understanding of the topics discussed to help you and your family get and stay healthy. It is not intended as a substitute for the professional advice and care of your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about your health or the health of any of your family members, contact your doctor.