When a stroke occurs, your blood supply is cut off from your brain, and you’re in a race against the clock before brain cells begin to die. For some stroke victims, especially those who don’t receive medical attention in time, this can lead to brain damage and other serious complications. This sudden medical emergency is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., and one American has a stroke every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, the statistics on the frequency of strokes are not currently looking up, the CDC warns.
“After decades of decline, progress has slowed in preventing stroke deaths,” the organization explains. “Almost 800,000 people have a stroke each year, more than 140,000 die and many survivors face disability.” But there’s one major silver lining to their grim statistics.
The CDC also shares that these deaths are largely avoidable: “about 80 percent of strokes are preventable,” the health authority states. That’s exactly why CDC experts have shared an important national initiative, Million Hearts 2022, which they say could help prevent up to one million heart attacks and strokes in five years’ time.
Using “a small set of evidence-based priorities and targets that can improve cardiovascular health for all,” they’re recommending a four-pronged plan to stopping strokes—and they’re calling it the “ABCS.” Read on to find out which four simple steps you should take now to slash your own stroke risk by 80 percent. They might just save your life.
Take aspirin as needed
The “A” in the “ABCS” is for “aspirin,” the CDC explains, and taking it daily may help lower your risk of stroke. The health authority recommends first talking to your doctor about your personal and family health history to determine whether a daily regimen of aspirin would be beneficial.
Your doctor may be more likely to recommend daily aspirin if you fall within a certain age range and meet certain health criteria. “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends daily aspirin therapy if you’re age 50 to 59, you’re not at increased bleeding risk, and you have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke of 10 percent or greater over the next 10 years,” the Mayo Clinic adds.