The symptoms of stroke are sudden. Preparing for one doesn't have to be.
Learn the Symptoms
Understanding the symptoms that indicate a stroke is in progress can save your brain and ultimately speech, movement and memory. Watch for sudden changes in the following areas:
Numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs, especially if there is one particular side of the body
Confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
Trouble with vision
Challenges with walking, balance or dizziness
Severe headache with no known cause
STEP 1: Identify Your Risk
Take time today to review the risk factors for stroke and evaluate your risk level. You can take our risk quiz here
Understanding your personal risks and working with your healthcare provider on an action plan to reverse them are important first steps.
STEP 2: Reduce Your Risk
Risks for stroke fall into three categories:
Lifestyle - Lifestyle risk are tied to choices around nutrition, exercise and habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
Medical - Medical risks are typically caused by a combination of things including family history and genetics, and are most likely controlled with medication. They are most often represented by conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation can be contributing factors to a stroke.
Uncontrollable - these risks are tied to your age, gender, ethnic background, family history and other factors that are outside of your control.
Once you've identified your individualized risk factors, you need to set out on a plan for change. Here are some tips:
- Consult with your primary care physician to create a customized plan for you.
- Take appropriate medicines to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- If you smoke, stop. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
- Make exercise part of your daily routine.
- Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
- Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems that increase your risk for stroke.
STEP 3: Think Fast. Act Fast.
It is important to recognize the signs of stroke at the onset, and to know how to act to save your brain. The American Stroke Association
has created a helpful reminder system using FAST
as a prompt. The letters in the word FAST
Source: American Stroke Association - Stroke symptoms, FAST acronymn
||Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
||Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
||Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
||If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.