Stroke, the fifth-leading cause of death in Florida according to the American Heart Association, is expected to continue to rise among baby boomers.
In Florida, the number of stroke-related deaths has been declining but remains 28 percent of stroke victims. Ten years ago, that number was 47 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Vigilance remains important, said Lesia Mooney, stroke coordinator at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. She expects the number of strokes to increase again because of the large number of aging baby boomers.
"The mindset wasn't necessarily always on preventative care. As the baby boomers age, there's a greater potential for stroke there," Mooney said.
Strokes happen to people at all levels of health and ages. Kyle Sheeler, an athletic 18-year-old, suffered a stroke but clot-busting medication helped reduce the debilitating side effects.
"The longer you wait, the more brain that's damaged," Sheeler said. "And don't hesitate to call 911, because with the more time that passes, you could have more cognitive difficulties, you could have more physical difficulties."
Reduce stroke risk by quitting smoking, losing weight and being physically active.
"You don't have to go crazy exercising or anything like that, but just find something that you like to do that's active, and that can really prevent it. Just live a healthy lifestyle," Sheeler said.
Nationwide, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds. Warning signs for a stroke include a drooping face, numb arm and impaired speech.
May is Stroke Awareness Month and health advocates are emphasizing the risks and warning signs of the deadly condition. More information is at floridacharts.com.