Stroke is a medical emergency that can be prevented by understanding the risk factors and warning signs. There are two categories of risk factors: those that cannot be managed or changed, and those that can be. Adjusting your lifestyle or environment to address the manageable factors can lower your risk for stroke.

What You Can’t Change

  • Age: As your age increases, so does your risk for a stroke
  • Family history of stroke
  • Gender: males are at a higher risk for stroke than women
  • Race: African-Americans are at a higher risk for stroke than other groups
  • Personal history of diabetes

What You Can Change, Treat or Modify

Seeking treatment or modifying your lifestyle can reduce many risk factors for stroke.

  • Know and control your blood pressure
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation
  • Control your diabetes
  • Know and manage your cholesterol
  • Eat a low-sodium, low-fat diet
  • Control your weight
  • If you smoke, stop
  • If you use alcohol, do so only in moderation
  • Exercise regularly

Warning Signs

The warning signs of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Not all of these warning signs occur in every case, and sometimes they go away and then return. If you think you may be having a stroke, don’t hesitate. Call 911 immediately.

Visit our Resources page for more information about stroke prevention, warning signs and treatment.