Did you know that 90% of strokes are linked to 10 avoidable risks?

Stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells become damaged or die, and depending on which part of the brain is affected and how quickly the person is treated, the effects of a stroke can be quite broad; ranging from speech to mobility issues, as well as impacting how a person thinks and feels.

October 29 is World Stroke Day. As a leading cause of disability and death globally, this day is important to raise awareness, educate and work towards change in order to reduce the risk of stroke.

One in six people will experience a stroke in their lifetime, and 90 per cent of these strokes are linked to avoidable risks. Here is what you need to know to help reduce your risk of having a stroke, signs and symptoms to watch for, as well as how to respond to the situation.

According to the World Stroke Campaign these are the 10 most important things you can do to reduce the risk of stroke.

  1. Keep blood pressure under control.
  2. Engage in moderate exercise 5 times a week.
  3. Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet filled with fresh produce.
  4. Reduce cholesterol levels by eating low saturated, non-hydrogenated fats.
  5. Maintain a healthy hip to waist ratio.curled measuring tape isolated on white background
  6. Avoid second-hand smoke, and if you do smoke take steps to quit.
  7. Limit alcohol intake to 2/day for men and 1/day for women.
  8. Atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, is linked to 9% of strokes. Find out if you are affected and talk to your doctor about treatment options.
  9. Reduce your risk of developing diabetes, or if you do have diabetes, work with your doctor to keep it under control.
  10. Educate yourself on the risks of stroke, keep up to date with information and know the signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

According to the CDC these are the most common signs and symptoms of stroke in men and women:

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

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember to act FAST

  • Face: Ask the person to smile, checking if one side of the face droops.
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms to see if one arm drifts downward.
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, checking if the speech sounds slurred or strange.
  • Time: If you see any of these signs call 9-1-1 immediately.

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By Christine Tompa