Linda was excited for her monthly appointment with her massage therapist Janine. Linda gets massage therapy to help ease chronic pain. Toward the end of her session, something strange began to happen—Linda’s entire body went numb and she couldn’t move. When she tried to speak, she couldn’t. Janine saw Linda’s mouth drooping on her left side. After about 45 seconds, the symptoms disappeared.
While Linda seemed ok, Janine was concerned so she called 911. Janine wrote down everything she witnessed, including the time and how long her symptoms lasted so Linda could give it to the emergency room doctors. After many tests Linda learned that she’d had a stroke.
A stroke is a brain attack caused by blocked blood flow to the brain that can affect a person’s speech, movement, memory, and more. Some of the warning signs of a stroke include:
- Weakness in the face, arm, or leg
- Speech difficulty
- Vision loss
- Brief loss of consciousness
If you think you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 911 immediately and note the time when the first symptoms appeared.
Unfortunately, Linda’s experience isn’t uncommon, and her risk of having another stroke is higher than someone who hasn’t had one. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults. About 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year.
Anyone can have a stroke at any age. But certain things can increase your chances of having a stroke, like smoking and drinking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and bad eating habits. Up to 80% of strokes may be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and taking advantage of these Medicare preventive services:
- Cardiovascular disease screening (includes blood test screening for cholesterol)
- Cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy)
- Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
- Diabetes screenings and self-management training
- Nutrition therapy services and Obesity screening and counseling
- Smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling (to stop smoking or using tobacco products)
In most cases, you’ll pay nothing for these services.
Are you new to Medicare? No worries. You can get a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit where your doctor will give you information about all of the free screenings and preventive services that are available to you.
Talk to your doctor about ways you can take small steps now to improve your health. For more details about Medicare’s coverage of preventive services, get a copy of “Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services [PDF, 1296 KB].”