Every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. The good news is that strokes are largely preventable. While risk factors such as age, family history and gender are beyond control, making simple lifestyle adjustments can reduce your overall risk of stroke.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a prominent risk factor for stroke. The carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke damages the cardiovascular system by reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood, so kick the habit.
- Move more. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to obesity and high blood pressure, both of which raise stroke risk. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity daily, even if you have to break it up into a few short, brisk walks.
- Eat better. High-sodium diets also raise blood pressure, and eating foods high in unhealthy fats can raise cholesterol levels. Stick to unsaturated fats, and add lots of fresh fruits and nutrient-rich vegetables to your diet.
When you suspect a loved one is suffering a stroke, act FAST:
- Face: Is the person’s face drooping on one side? Ask him or her to smile.
- Arms: Is he or she complaining of one arm being numb or weaker than the other?
- Speech: A stroke sufferer’s speech might be slurred, and he or she may have difficulty speaking.
- Time: Call 911 immediately if any of these symptoms are displayed, and note the time the first symptom occurred, as this could impact treatment options.