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Thank you for subscribing to In Great Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit

To your health,

The Avera Staff


You may be familiar with the signs of a heart attack, but do you know the signs of a stroke? Heart attacks and strokes have similar causes, but the two have different symptoms. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately.

Heart attacks are caused when blood vessels to the heart are blocked, either by a blood clot or by a constricted vessel. The same blood vessel blockage happens during a stroke, except it's in the brain instead of the heart. No matter where the blockage happens, extensive damage can occur when blood is blocked from the organs.

Symptoms of a stroke include numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion; difficulty talking or comprehending; difficulty seeing; dizziness, loss of balance or difficulty with walking; and sudden, severe headaches.

Use the acronym "FAST" to detect signs of a stroke.
F: Face. See if the side of a person's face droops when trying to smile.
A: Arms. Check if one arms droops when the person lifts both arms.
S: Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Listen for slurred words.
T: Time. If a person shows any of these symptoms, it's important to get to the hospital right away. Call 911.

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Although prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States, it is highly treatable, especially if it is diagnosed in its early stages. Avera can help men determine their risk factors for prostate cancer and how to prevent and fight the disease.

The good news is that prostate cancer's five-year survival rate, at any stage in a diagnosis, is 98 percent. The biggest known risk factors are family history, age and ethnicity. Symptoms of the disease include frequent urination, especially at night; pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs; a weak flow of urine; inability to urinate; and blood in the urine or semen.

Some preventive measures can make a difference. Recent studies have shown that exercise (even in moderate amounts) can help reduce the risk for prostate cancer. Just 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a week helps. Eating a low-fat diet rich in vegetables and fruits and high in omega-3 fatty acids also can help prevent the disease.

While these lifestyle modifications are important, a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is the most effective tool for prevention and treatment. Men ages 40 to 75 should be screened annually. Those with increased risk factors may need to be screened earlier. Schedule an appointment with your family physician to take a PSA test or if you have any symptoms or concerns about prostate cancer.

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Emergency medical situations happen to people of all ages. It's important to have a plan in place to determine health care choices if you or a family member becomes seriously injured or critically ill. April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, which is an ideal time to consider what medical treatments are right for you in a medical emergency.

It is the policy of Avera facilities to provide high-quality medical care to all patients with the objective of saving and sustaining life. However, this commitment involves recognition that beginning and/or continuing treatment may not be in the patient's best interest when the burdens of such treatment outweigh the benefits.

In the midst of stress and grief, it can be quite difficult to make health care decisions for a loved one, especially if you're not sure what types of treatment the person would prefer. It's an excellent idea to tell your family and doctors about your wishes for life-sustaining treatments and choices of care. You also may wish to complete an advance directive, such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Living Will.

Learn more about making advance directives. You also can speak to your doctors, nurses, social service workers or pastoral care staff members about making health care decisions.

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In Great Health online archive.

In Great Health is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.