Stroke Tips

Below are some tips that can help you protect yourself and others against stroke.

Tip #1: Know Your Signs

A stroke is a medical emergency. If you recognize the symptoms of stroke and seek medical attention fast, treatment can minimize the effects of stroke.  Treatment must be given within three hours of the first symptom. Recognizing the signs of stroke is easy if you learn to think F.A.S.T.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Tip #2: Control Blood Pressure to Prevent Stroke

Did you know high blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke? Nearly 60 million Americans have high blood pressure, and almost a third aren't aware they have it.

You should...

  • Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, or more often if you have a history of high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, or obesity.
  • Know your family medical history. If high blood pressure runs in your family, it's important to ask your doctor how to control your blood pressure.
  • If you have high blood pressure, follow the recommendations of your doctor, which may include dietary changes, regular exercise, or the use of medication. 

Tip #3: Manage Cholesterol to Prevent Stroke

Next time you think about burgers and fries, remember: There are many things - including foods high in saturated fat - that can cause arteries to become blocked through the gradual build up of cholesterol, known as plaque. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy fat (lipid) that is made by the body. It's found in the bloodstream and in all of your body's cells. Your body needs it to form cell membranes, some hormones, and vitamin D. Cholesterol is also found in foods, such as eggs, meats, and dairy products. Cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can block normal blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. High cholesterol may also increase your risk for stroke by raising your risk for heart disease, which is a risk factor for stroke. There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

You should...

  • Understand your cholesterol numbers, because they're key measurements of your stroke risk.
  • Have a combined HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) that falls below 200.
  • Maintain a healthy cholesterol level by eating a diet low in saturated fat and incorporating exercise into your routine.
  • Ask your doctor how you can improve any cholesterol numbers that are not within normal range.

Tip #4: Manage Diabetes to Prevent Stroke

Did you know that 6.2 million people in the United States are unaware they have diabetes? People with diabetes are at increased risk of stroke, because diabetes adversely affects the arteries. Stroke risk is 2.5 times higher in people with diabetes, compared to those without diabetes.

You should...

  • If you have a family history of diabetes, ask your doctor if you're at risk. It may be necessary for you to be tested regularly.
  • Monitor your blood sugar, weight gain, and A1C levels if you have diabetes.
  • Take medicine as directed (including insulin).  Follow treatment guidelines from your doctor, and ask questions about anything you don't understand.
  • Manage your diet and exercise to control blood sugar levels.

Tip #5: Make Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke

What many people don't know is that stroke is one of the most preventable of all life-threatening health problems. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of stroke.

You should...

  • Get moving and stay active by making exercise a part of your daily routine.
  • Never smoke! If you're a regular smoker, do whatever it takes to quit. It may be one of the very best things you can do for your health.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in fat and sodium, but rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation.