Because a stroke can happen to anyone at any time, it is important that everyone know the signs of a stroke and what to do at the first signs of a stroke. It is important to act fast during a stroke event.
As we celebrate American Stroke Month, it is a perfect time to talk about the acronym, F.A.S.T. This acronym is a tool to help everyone remember the most common warning signs and symptoms of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness and Speech Difficulty. If you have any of these, symptoms it is Time to call 911.
Knowing the F.A.S.T. acronym can save the life of a loved one or friend. According to the American Stroke Association, in 66 percent of stroke cases, someone other than the patient makes the decision to seek stroke treatment. Acting F.A.S.T. will make a difference in someone’s quality of life.
Lifestyle Changes Can Minimize Stroke Risk
Here are two facts from the American Stroke Association that are important to know about stroke prevention. First, up to 80 percent of strokes may be preventable. Second, one in four stroke survivors have a second stroke, but second strokes are largely preventable with lifestyle changes.
So, here are eight ways you can help through lifestyle changes to prevent a stroke from occurring or reoccurring:
1) Monitor your blood pressure. Did you know that high blood pressure is the No. 1 risk factor for stroke? Be sure to know your numbers and take steps to control your blood pressure.
2) Control your cholesterol. By managing your cholesterol, you are better able to maintain a healthy brain, which requires normal blood flow and oxygen.
3) Keep your blood sugar down. It’s important to get your blood sugar tested and under control. If high blood sugars are left untreated, diabetes can cause a number of health complications.
4) Get active. Get moving and get your heart pumping. Activity throughout the day can make a difference. Activities can include walking, running, bicycling, dancing or even outdoor chores such as mowing and gardening. The goal is to stay active.
5) Eat better. Along with physical activity, you need to have a healthy diet. Foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains can lower your risk for a stroke and heart disease.
6) Lose weight. Be sure to maintain a healthy weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). This can lead to health benefits such as better regulation of your blood pressure.
7) Don’t smoke. If you smoke, it is important to quit. Smoking is a leading risk factor for stroke.
8) Talk to your doctor about aspirin or other medications. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your physician before beginning an aspirin regimen.
These are some of the preventable risk factors that could decrease your chances of having a stroke. But, it is always important to remember, if you think you or someone you love is experiencing stroke symptoms, act F.A.S.T and get to your nearest emergency room.
Dr. Nishit Shah is the medical director of Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s hospitalist program. He is board certified in internal medicine and has been a member of the Fisher-Titus hospitalist team since July 2016.