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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Someone having a stroke may experience only one, or several of these warning signs:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the 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

How can I lower my risk of stroke?

  • High Blood Pressure: The most important risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, also called hypertension. In 2013, almost 27% of Minnesota adults report they have high blood pressure (2013 data).
  • High Blood Cholesterol: People with higher levels of total cholesterol are more likely to have ischemic strokes. About 33% of adults in Minnesota report they have high blood cholesterol (2013 data).
  • Controlling your blood pressure and high blood cholesterol by making healthier choices and taking medications decreases your chance of having a stroke.
  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib): Individuals with AFib – a type of irregular heartbeat — are four to five times more likely to have an ischemic stroke. An estimated 2.7 million Americans have condition. If you have AFib, take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Cigarette Smoke: Smoking doubles the risk of ischemic stroke, and may increase the risk for hemorrhagic stroke up to four times. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke nearly doubles the risk of stroke. If you smoke, ask your doctor about ways to quit. In 2014, 16.3% of Minnesota adults were current smokers.
  • Physical Inactivity: Daily physical activity reduces the risk of stroke. People who don’t exercise at all are more likely to have a stroke. Less than 21% of Minnesota adults get enough exercise (2013), and 20% of adults in Minnesota get no exercise at all (2014).
  • Overweight and Obesity: Strokes happen more often in people who are overweight or obese. Keeping a healthy weight through exercise and healthy eating improves many stroke risk factors.
  • Diabetes: Strokes happen two to four times more often in people with diabetes. People with diabetes can lower their risk of stroke by controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol.

Info from the MDH.