Join Atrium Health Navicent in Recognizing National Stroke Month

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, May 17th, 2024

Atrium Health Navicent invites the community to participate in a 10-day Stroke Wellness
Challenge in observance of National Stroke Month this May.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States has a stroke every 40
seconds. Every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of stroke. Every year in the U.S., about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, and
about 610,000 of these are first-time strokes.

Central Georgians are at an increased risk for stroke due to the prevalence of common risk factors that include high blood
pressure, diabetes, obesity and tobacco use. Georgia is in the “Stroke Belt,” an area in the Southeastern United States
where stroke deaths are approximately 30 percent higher than the rest of the country. In 2021, Georgia held the 8th highest
stroke death rate in the country, with 5,233 people dying from strokes.

The aim of National Stroke Month is to advocate for early stroke intervention by increasing awareness about the signs and
symptoms that someone is having a stroke. By participating in Atrium Health Navicent’s 10-day Stroke Wellness Challenge
between May 13 and May 22, individuals can learn more about how to prevent a stroke, recognize the signs of a stroke, and
begin to live a heathier lifestyle:

May 13: Take time to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
Learn the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. and call 911 immediately.

• B – Balance loss (Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?)
• E – Eyesight changes (Is the person having sudden blurred or double vision in one or both eyes?)
• F – Facial weakness (Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?)
• A – Arm or leg weakness (Can the person raise both arms?)
• S – Speech difficulty (Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?)
• T – Time to act (Seek medical attention immediately!)

May 14: Focus on stretching, which can help reduce stress and tension, and have a positive effect on overall health.
Stretching can also offer great benefits for stroke survivors such as preventing joint stiffness, muscle shortening, decreasing
spastic movements and improving general function.

May 15: Swap your snack for a healthier alternative which can help reduce weight, a stroke risk factor. Try apples, carrots,
nuts or seeds for crunchy cravings or more filling snacks like whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter, cherry
tomatoes with hummus or cheese that’s low in fat or fat-free.

May 16: Strengthen your core to improve balance. If you’re new to core strengthening, begin your workout slowly. Experts at
Atrium Health Navicent Wellness Center can help you begin a program based on your individual needs. Benefits of physical
activity for stroke recovery also may include improved mobility, walking and balance; improved mental function; reduced risk
of stroke recurrence and a reduced risk of falls.

May 17: Take a few minutes to show gratitude and think about the positive things in your life. Positive thinking and being
grateful has been shown to improve sleep, decrease depression, lower blood pressure, improve immune function and
improve overall health.

May 18: Try a 10-minute home workout. Even 10 minutes of exercise can improve brain health, strengthen bones, lower
blood pressure, lift your mood and improve your sleep. The American Stroke Association even offers exercises for stroke
survivors that they can do sitting and laying down.

Amy Leigh Womack
[email protected]

May 19: Stay hydrated. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart to more easily pump blood through blood vessels to
the muscles, and it helps muscles work efficiently. As a person grows older, he or she may become more prone to

dehydration due to medications. Common symptoms of dehydration include: thirst, less-frequent urination, light-
headedness and dizziness.

May 20: Reduce stress. Although everyone experiences stress, individuals need to work on controlling negative stress
which can increase blood pressure and heart rate, elevate stress hormones and increase the risk for heart attack and
stroke. Try one of the following stress-lowering activities today: Go for a walk, try a quick meditation, read a book or
magazine, color or work on an art project, practice yoga, break down big problems into smaller parts, or engage in
positive self-talk (instead of saying “I can’t do this,” say “I’ll do the best I can!”)

May 21: Add mini squats to your workout routine to strengthen your legs, build balance and reduce falls. Remember to start slowly and gradually work up the number of repetitions each day.

May 22: Take time to learn what you can do to reduce your risk of stroke by:
• Assessing your risk using The American Stroke Association’s Stroke Risk Assessment
• Eat a healthy diet
• Be physically active
• Watch your weight
• Live tobacco-free
• Manage your medical conditions
• Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor or other medical provider
• Be a team player to work with your health care team to make healthy changes part of your stroke prevention plan.

“We encourage everyone to participate in Atrium Health Navicent’s 10-day Stroke Wellness Challenge to learn more
about stroke risk, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and to consider making simple lifestyle changes
that can reduce stroke risk,” said Dr. Matthew Smith, Atrium Health Navicent’s stroke program director.

In addition to being recognized as a “high performing” stroke center by U.S. News & World Report, Atrium Health Navicent
The Medical Center is a 13-time recipient of the “Get with the Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus” Quality Achievement Award,
an annual award presented by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association for excellence in
stroke care. The health system earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and
treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

For the third consecutive year, Atrium Health Navicent has been named to AHA’s “Target Type 2 Diabetes” Honor Roll,

which recognizes hospitals that are taking steps to help stroke patients control and manage Type 2 diabetes, a well-
established risk factor for stroke.

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