More than 800,000 strokes happen each year in the United States. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.
A stroke is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain and can affect a person’s speech, movement, memory, and more. It’s important to know the signs of a stroke and get help quickly. Some of the warning signs include:
- Weakness in the face, arm, or leg
- Difficulty speaking
- 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.
Anyone can have a stroke at any age, but almost three-quarters of all strokes happen in people over 65. Certain factors 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. Taking advantage of these Medicare preventive services can help:
- Cardiovascular disease screening (includes blood test screening for cholesterol)
- Cardiovascular behavioral therapy
- Alcohol misuse screenings and counseling
- Diabetes screenings and self-management training
- Nutrition therapy services and Obesity behavioral therapy
- Counseling to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease (to stop smoking or using tobacco products)
In most cases, you’ll pay nothing for these services.
If you’re new to Medicare, you can get a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit where your doctor will give you information about free screenings and preventive services 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.”