Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. A stroke affects the arteries that lead to the brain, or the arteries that are in the brain. A blood vessel that transports vital oxygen is either blocked by a clot, so the blood flow is stopped, or the blood vessel bursts.
There are stroke risk factors that you cannot change:
- Getting older.
- Family history of strokes.
- If you have already had a stroke or heart attack.
There are stroke risk factors that you CAN change:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure.
- Cigarette smoking.
- Artery disease – fatty plaques.
- High blood cholesterol.
- Poor diet: high saturated fat and/or high sodium/salt.
- Lack of exercise.
A stroke does not have to happen, and making lifestyle changes immediately reduces your risk. It is also important to know the signs and symptoms, because strokes happen fast.
Remember this acronym – FAST:
- Face (droopy)
- Arm (numbness or weakness)
- Speech (slurred)
- Time – call 911 and have someone drive you to the hospital immediately, but don’t drive yourself!!!