May is Stroke Awareness Month and, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are more than 800,000 stokes in the United States each year.

Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

Those at highest risk for stroke include African Americans, Hispanics, and people over the age of 50.

Do you know the symptoms of a stroke?

The National Stroke Association has an easy way to remember and recognize the most common symptoms of a stroke – the acronym FAST.

F – FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T – TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you observe any of these symptoms. Also, note the time of the first symptom. This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.

Spot a Stroke Fast - Face, Arms, Speech, Time

(courtesy of American Heart Association)

Lower your risk:

There are ways to actively lower your risk of a stroke. According to Harvard Health, seven steps to lower your risk include:

1. Lower your blood pressure.
2. Keep weight in check.
3. Exercise more
4. Consume alcohol only in moderation.
5. Treat atrial fibrillation.
6. Treat diabetes.
7. Quit smoking.

Knowing the signs and your risk factors is essential to preventing and treating strokes. Experts advise not ignoring any symptoms that align with those of a stroke – addressing symptoms early with your primary care physician is the best way to live and healthy and happy life. For more information about primary care through BHA visit our Services Page or learn more about becoming a patient.