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According to the American Heart Association, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds.

Stroke is the No. 5 killer and a leading cause of preventable disability in the United States. A stroke can happen to anyone, any age, at any time. Can a stroke be frightening? Of course. But that is why it is important to know the warning signs of stroke to get help quickly and minimize brain damage and disability. Early treatment can greatly increase survival rate and lower disability rates.

Who is at risk for stroke?

While stroke can happen at any age, there are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of having a stroke (1). Some risk factors can be changed, treated, or managed, such as:

• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• High cholesterol
• Cardiovascular disease
• Diabetes
• High red blood cell count

Some stroke risk factors cannot be changed including age, race, gender, history of a prior stroke, or genetics.

How do I recognize a stroke?

It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke and get help quick. The acronym B.E. F.A.S.T can help you to spot a stroke and to call 911 right away (1). B.E. F.A.S.T stands for:

B – Balance
E – Eyes, Blurry Vision
F – Face Drooping 
A – Arm Weakness
S – Speech Difficulty
T – Time to call 911

Other symptoms of stroke may include (1):
General weakness or weakness on one side of the body
• Problems with vision and trouble seeing
• Dizziness or the loss of balance or coordination
• Severe headache with no known cause

Stroke is an emergency – and every minute counts. Do not wait to see if symptoms subside.

How can I prevent stroke?

• Be a quitter – Ditch the cigarettes and avoid secondhand smoke.
Be more active (without feeling miserable) – Discover forms of physical activity that you enjoy. Physical activity and movement should emphasize pleasure, joy, and choice.
• Limit alcohol use – Excessive drinking increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. If you choose to drink, drink moderately – meaning one drink per day for women and one to two for men.
Eat a healthful diet that is flexible and balanced – Aim for a wide variety of foods. A variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, fat, and dairy provide many vitamins and minerals while also helping to balance satiety and satisfaction.
Manage high blood pressure and diabetes – Talk with your doctor to understand, monitor, and manage high blood pressure and diabetes.

Photo: Madi Zaidel, Community Outreach SpecialistAuthor: Madi Zaidel, CHES®
Madi is a Certified Health Education Specialist and is currently the Community Health Outreach Specialist for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Madi holds a degree in Public Health and is working on her master’s degree in Public Health Nutrition. Madi is passionate about health promotion, health education, and holistic well-being, and is an advocate for health at every size (HAES).

ARHS Health Outreach programs use evidence-based initiatives to promote healthy behaviors, prevent disease, and encourage disease management practices. For more information or to request a program, contact Madi at (828) 268-8960.



1. American Stroke Association. (2022). Stroke symptoms.

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