Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, taking nearly 130,000 American lives each year. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for stroke. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.
Several other medical conditions and unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase your risk for stroke. You may not be able to control all of your risk factors for stroke, but according to the American Heart Association you can take steps to prevent stroke and its complications.
Identify – It’s important to review the risk factors and identify your personal risk.
Reduce your risk factors – By changing your lifestyle, you could help reduce risk. Some healthy lifestyle choices you could make are: eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, not smoking, and limiting alcohol use.
Recognize and Respond – Know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can act fast if you or someone you know might be having a stroke. The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly. By memorizing F.A.S.T., we can recognize signs of stroke quickly and act to the first sight of stroke.
One in three Americans is unable to recognize all the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs:
F – FACE DROOPING
A – ARM WEAKNESS
S – SPEECH DIFFICULTY
T – TIME TO CALL 9-1-1
Being aware of these stroke signs may make the difference between life or death and between full recovery or permanent disability. If we work together and educate ourselves on the risks, symptoms, and prevention of stroke, we may be able to eliminate stroke altogether.