Time is critical when a stroke strikes—according to the National Stroke Association, a person loses almost 2 million brain cells during each minute that a stroke goes untreated.

When you suspect a loved one has suffered 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 even just 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.

Reduce Your Risk

While risk factors such as age, family history and gender are beyond our control, we can all make lifestyle adjustments to reduce our stroke risk. The following health practices can help you prevent strokes:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking is a prominent risk factor for stroke and one that people can absolutely control. The carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke damages the cardiovascular system by reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood, so the best route is drop 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.

Your primary care provider (PCP) can help you identify lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your stroke risk and work with you to eliminate them. Need a PCP? Visit parkridgehealth.com/physicians.