Know the risk factors and signs of stroke

On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds

Stroke can attack without warning, but people who have a stroke are likely to have more than one risk factor.

“By knowing the risk that you or a family member have for stroke, you can seek out early screening and help lower your risk,” says Henry Ford Neurologist Alex Chebl, M.D.

Some risk factors are unchangeable, such as a family history of stroke, having had a previous stroke and your age. Older adults are more at risk for having a stroke.

A person’s race or ethnicity is also a factor. African-Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to have a stroke. However, all minority groups, including Native Americans and Hispanics, are at increased risk.

If you have certain medical conditions, you are also at increased risk for stroke. This includes diabetes, and heart and vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease or peripheral artery disease.

Other factors are ones that you can control through lifestyle choices. This includes smoking, diets high in saturated fat and sodium, an inactive lifestyle, and drug, alcohol and anabolic steroid use.

Even if you have other risk factors, making changes to your lifestyle can help to reduce your overall risk.

Take the Henry Ford stroke risk assessment to learn more about your risk level.

Signs of stroke

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, think F.A.S.T.  The National Stroke Association developed the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the symptoms of stroke and ways to determine if someone is having a stroke. It stands for Face, Arm, Speech and Time.

If you believe someone might be having a stroke, ask them to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Ask them to raise both arms. Does one drift downward? Is their speech slurred? If you observe any of these signs, time is of the essence. Call 9-1-1. Studies have shown that patients who arrive to the hospital by ambulance receive quicker treatment.

While the signs above are the most common, there may be others. These could include sudden confusion, sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and sudden, severe headache with no known cause.