May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time when healthcare professionals and public health advocates aim to raise awareness about the warning signs and risk factors of stroke.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and it can cause significant disability and impairment in those who survive. However, many strokes can be prevented by taking steps to reduce the risk factors. One effective method for reducing the risk of stroke is by utilizing the ABCs, a framework developed by the Million Hearts® initiative. The ABCs stand for Aspirin use when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. By addressing these four key factors, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of stroke.

(A) Appropriate Anticoagulant Use

Aspirin use when appropriate refers to taking a low-dose aspirin daily if recommended by a healthcare professional. Aspirin can help prevent blood clots from forming and reduce the risk of stroke in some individuals. However, not everyone should take aspirin and it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine if it is appropriate for you.

(B) Blood Pressure Control

Blood pressure control is crucial for reducing the risk of stroke. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of blood clots, both of which can lead to stroke. Individuals can manage their blood pressure through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, and through medications if necessary.

(C) Manage your Cholesterol

Cholesterol management involves keeping cholesterol levels in a healthy range. High levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, can contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of stroke. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medications as prescribed can help manage cholesterol levels.

(S) Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation is crucial for reducing the risk of stroke. Smoking can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of blood clots, both of which can lead to stroke. Quitting smoking can be challenging, but there are many resources available to help individuals quit, including nicotine replacement therapy and support groups.

By utilizing the ABCs, individuals can take important steps towards reducing their risk of stroke. National Stroke Awareness Month is an important reminder of the importance of stroke prevention and the steps we can all take to protect our health.

Additional Resources:

Friday Focus GearsThe Great Plains QIN Team hosted a series of educational sessions on Blood Pressure throughout February as part of our Friday Focus 4 Health Series. Access the presentations and recordings from these sessions below.

Blood Pressure Control