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Stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency.
When you know the symptoms of stroke, you can act fast to save a life.
Knowing your risk factors for stroke – those you can’t change and those you can – may help you prevent a stroke in a loved one or yourself.
Stroke symptoms happen suddenly. The symptoms are similar for ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. One of the easiest way to remember stroke symptoms and determine if someone may be having a stroke is to remember the phrase BE FAST.
- Balance – Ask if the person feels dizzy or has trouble standing.
- Eyes – Ask if the person has blurred or double vision.
- Face – Ask the person to smile and see if one side of the face droops.
- Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward.
- Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like, “The sky is blue,” and note whether it’s correct or speech is confused, slurred or garbled.
- Time – Call 911 immediately if the person has any or several of these symptoms. Time lost is brain lost.
Anyone can have a stroke, but certain factors place you at higher risk. Some factors that increase the risk of stroke cannot be changed, while others are linked to lifestyle factors that you can control.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
- Age – Your risk for stroke increases with age.
- Atrial fibrillation – an irregular heart rate associated with strokes
- Gender – Men are more likely to have strokes than women, but more women die from strokes.
- Family history – If your parent, grandparent or sibling had a stroke, you are more likely to have one.
- Race – African-Americans have greater risk of stroke.
- Prior stroke – If you had a stroke before, you are at greater risk to have another.
Risk Factors You Can Control
- Quit smoking or don’t start
- Taking medications as directed by your doctor
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain healthy weight
- Limit alcohol use
- Control diabetes
- Control blood pressure
- Reduce LDL cholesterol
- Not using harmful drugs
Even if you have had a stroke, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of having another stroke.