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HFAP Comprehensive Stroke Certification

Stroke Prevention

The symptoms of stroke are sudden. Preparing for one doesn't have to be.

A stroke can change your life without a moment's notice... or even end it. So how can you minimize the risk of a stroke? There are ways to protect yourself. In fact, up to 80% of strokes are preventable by working to manage your risk. By following these important stroke prevention tips, you can help minimize your risk of a brain attack.

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:

  1. Consult with your primary care physician to create a customized plan for you.
  2. Take appropriate medicines to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  3. If you smoke, stop. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  4. If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
  5. Make exercise part of your daily routine.
  6. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
  7. 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 stand for:

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 phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Source: American Stroke Association - Stroke symptoms, FAST acronymn