May Health Observances
Within the month of May are various observances dedicated to raising awareness about important health and wellness topics, such as stroke, asthma, lung health, lung cancer, and smoking.

National Stroke Awareness Month
National Stroke Awareness Month

Stroke. Anyone can have one and everyone should be ready.

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the no. 5 cause of death in the US, according to the American Stroke Association.


  • 80% of all strokes are preventable.
  • 3 out of 4 people who suffer first strokes have high blood pressure.
  • Stroke risk increases with age, but young adults, children, and even unborn babies can suffer strokes.
  • If one of your parents had an ischemic stroke (stroke caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain) before 65, you are at 3X the risk of suffering one yourself.


  • Clot-busting drugs and medical devices have made stroke largely treatable.
  • Every second counts. For each minute a stroke goes untreated, nearly 2 million brain cells die.
  • The American Stroke Association urges everyone to learn to recognize the most common warning signs of stroke-F.A.S.T.
    • F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
    • A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
    • S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
    • T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

For more information on stroke or National Stroke Awareness Month, visit the American Stroke Association.

World Asthma Day
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are always inflamed, making it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. 
Symptoms of Asthma
Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
What causes asthma?
Asthma is caused by genetic factors and environmental triggers, including tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollution, dust mites, and pet dander.
World Asthma Day
Copyright: naumas/123RF Stock Photo

World Asthma Day—May 3, 2022—is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in an effort to improve awareness and care of asthma around the world.

An estimated 300 million people worldwide (25 million in the US) suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow to more than 400 million by 2025.

The World Asthma Foundation suggests these steps for “breathing easier” with asthma:

  • Prepare a personal asthma management plan with the help of your doctor.
  • Take relevant medications prescribed by your doctor which relieve symptoms of asthma and control related inflammation and swelling of the airways.
  • Educate yourself about the risk factors of asthma which can bring on symptoms and make the condition worse.
  • Learn to recognize when the symptoms are becoming worse.
  • Be prepared in case you have an asthma attack. This could include carrying a card which informs others about your condition and gives instructions on what to do when you have a severe asthma attack.

Learn more about asthma at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website.

Lung Cancer Hope Month and Women's Lung Health Week
Lung Cancer Hope Month and Women's Lung Health Week



According to the National Cancer Institute, “survivorship” begins at the time of diagnosis and continues during and after treatment for as long as you live. More lung cancer treatments, an expanding number of clinical trials, and new partnerships in research are resulting in people with lung cancer living longer and better lives.

May is Lung Cancer Hope Month, a time to celebrate the progress that is being made in the fight against lung cancer and an opportunity to join together with hope for a better future. This month, first introduced in 2012 by the LUNGevity Foundation, also brings attention to the physical, emotional, and day-to-day issues of the cancer journey.

For more information about this disease, visit Lung Cancer.


National Women’s Lung Health Week—May 9 to 15, 2022—is part of LUNG FORCE, a national movement led by the American Lung Association in an effort to bring more awareness to lung cancer and lung health. The goal of this week is to unite women to stand together with a collective strength and determination to lead the fight against lung cancer and for lung health.


According to the American Lung Association:

  • Every five minutes, a woman in the US is told she has lung cancer.
  • Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women in the US, surpassing breast cancer in 1987.
  • As the number one cancer killer of women in the US, lung cancer kills almost twice as many women as any other cancer.

Even with these staggering statistics, most women do not understand their lung cancer risks and many have not spoken with a doctor. The American Lung Association reports that only 1% of women cited lung cancer as a top of mind cancer affecting women. But after learning about lung cancer, they are more likely to take action to address lung cancer, including speaking with their doctor. This is important since right now in the United States, there are approximately 3.5 million women at high risk for lung cancer.

The American Lung Association asks women to wear turquoise during Women’s Lung Health Week, representing the collective breath of our world’s women and the collective breath of air around our planet.

Visit LUNG FORCE for more information on the National Women’s Lung Health Week and lung health.  

World No Tobacco Day
World No Tobacco Day

In honor of World No Tobacco Day 2022 on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages people to stay away from all forms of tobacco consumption for 24 hours. This initiative is designed to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and highlight the health risks associated with it, as well as encourage support for effective policies to reduce the use of tobacco.


According to WHO:

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • Almost 6 million people die each year due to tobacco. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Nearly 80% of the world’s 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counseling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.

In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It causes many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems.

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills homes, cars, the workplace, and public places, such as bars, restaurants, and recreational settings when people burn tobacco products. There are more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and almost 70 are known to cause cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. WHO reports:

  • In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.
  • Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.
  • Second-hand smoke causes more than 600,000 premature deaths per year.
  • In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.

The theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day is protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use. World No Tobacco Day 2020 will provide a counter-marketing campaign to industry’s systematic, aggressive tactics and empower young people to engage in the fight against Big Tobacco.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons

The STS mission is to advance cardiothoracic surgeons’ delivery of the highest quality patient care through collaboration, education, research, and advocacy.