Lowering risk of stroke: What warning signs to look for

On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated

According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated.

A stroke can happen to anyone at any age and at any time, which is why knowing the warning signs is so important, Dr. Aizaz R. Hundal, a neurologist at Methodist Hospital Stone Oak, said.

The American Stroke Association has developed the F.A.S.T. warning signs to identify signs someone might be having a stroke:

B= Balance or coordination loss. Is the person having any trouble walking or standing? Are they experiencing any dizziness.

E= Eyes. Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision?

F= Face drooping. Does one side of their face droop, or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A= Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S= Speech difficulty. Is their speech slurred?

T= Time to call 911.

Other symptoms to watch for include the following:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially if it’s isolated to one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Making healthy choices and controlling existing health conditions is one way people can help to lower their risk of stroke. Hundal said to choose healthy foods and drinks. This means eating:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Foods low in saturated and trans fats
  • Foods low in cholesterol.
  • Foods high in fiber.

Salt in the diet should also be limited.

In addition to healthy eating, Hundal said to keep a healthy weight. Getting regular physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight, as well as to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Smoking should be avoided, and alcohol consumption limited.

Lastly, Hundal said to control existing medical conditions. This means checking cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, and taking prescribed medications.

For more information, visit Methodist Healthcare’s website at sahealth.com/stroke.