May is Stroke Awareness Month: Do You Know the Signs?

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112


LANSING - With May being National Stroke Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding all Michiganders of the warning signs of a stroke - and how it affects specific populations, such as women and those under 65.

A stroke occurs when part of the brain is blocked from receiving blood or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. MDCH and the National Stroke Association are encouraging everyone to "Act FAST" to remember the warning signs of a stroke:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For women, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and disproportionately affects women. In Michigan, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death overall and a major cause of long-term disability. While many people think of stroke as a condition that affects only seniors, strokes occur in people of all ages. In 2008, nearly a quarter of all 27,719 stroke hospitalizations in Michigan were for people under 65 years old.

Practicing the following healthy behaviors can reduce the risk for stroke and offer the greatest potential in reducing disability and death from stroke:

  • Avoid all tobacco use.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight, and get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
  • Monitor blood pressure as hypertension is one of the most common causes of stroke.
  • Keep cholesterol in check because high cholesterol can cause blockages.
  • Eat a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider whether you should consider taking aspirin daily.

To raise awareness, the MDCH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is promoting the "Million Hearts" campaign. "Million Hearts" was launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. The campaign brings together heart disease and stroke prevention programs, policies and activities to raise awareness about actions that can be taken to prevent heart disease and stroke among Americans.

Everyone can take the Million Hearts Pledge to make a commitment to improve their heart health at For more information and resources from the MDCH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, visit

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