Beating the odds against stroke

Noella Cypress-West, Tampa General HospitalMay is American Stroke Month, and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association advise it’s never too early to begin taking stroke prevention seriously. In fact, doctors are reporting a rise in the number of children and young adults that are being treated for strokes.

Certain population groups including African Americans are also more likely to suffer a stroke at a younger age. Compared with white children, black children in the U.S. have more than two times the risk of stroke.

Noella Cypress-West, Tampa General Hospital

Noella Cypress-West, Tampa General Hospital

“In general, African Americans have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke that is exacerbated by a predisposition for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity,” said Noella Cypress-West, ARNP-C, MSN, CNL, SCRN of Tampa General Hospital. “You can greatly improve your odds of preventing and beating this disease by controlling your risk factors.”

The good news is that the American Stroke Association reports 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is key to avoiding a stroke. Nearly one in six adults don’t know the status of their blood pressure.

“High blood pressure is considered a silent killer, as it usually has no symptoms,” explained Cypress-West. “Having your blood pressure checked regularly; avoiding salt and high sodium foods; maintaining a healthy weight and steering clear of cigarettes, including secondhand smoke, can significantly reduce your stroke risk.”

Because every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke, being able to identify the warning signs can be a lifesaving advantage. The faster the patient receives medical care significantly increases the chances of making a full recovery.

When it comes to knowing and quickly reacting to stroke warning signs, the American Stroke Association encourages people to think F.AS.T.

F – Face Drooping

A – Arm Weakness

S – Speech Difficulty

T – Time to Call 9-1-1

“Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States,” said Cypress-West. “Depression, personality changes, poor memory, poor judgment, difficulty with concentration, visual impairments and weakness can all be caused by a stroke.”

Beat Stroke, featured

Stroke patients who are treated with a clot-busting drug within 90 minutes of their first symptoms were almost three times more likely to recover with little or no disability.

If there is ever any uncertainty whether you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Tampa General Hospital will host a Stroke Retreat for survivors and their caregivers on Saturday, May 20, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. RSVP to Noella West at or call 813.844.3746.

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