Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. While many factors contribute to an individual’s risk for stroke, recent studies have found that it is more likely to occur in minority populations such as African Americans and Hispanics. A number of complex factors contribute to this increased risk, including income and education, genetic and physiological factors, access to care, and communication barriers. Understanding your risk factors and symptoms is an important first step in preventing stroke.
Since many of the risk factors for stroke are modifiable, it is important to discuss any risk factors and ways you can decrease your risk with your healthcare provider. The most common, modifiable risk factors for a stroke include: high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, smoking, high alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and nutrition. If you have many of these risk factors, talk to your physician about how diet and exercise can reduce your risk, and how to manage other conditions that increase your risk.
With a stroke, time is of the essence! The quicker a stroke patient receives care, the better the outcome. A simple way to recognize the most common signs of stroke is using the acronym FAST:
- Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
- Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
- Speech: Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a phrase.
- Time: Every second, brain cells die. Call 9-1-1 at any sign of stroke.
If experiencing stroke symptoms, do not hesitate, call 911 immediately and they can get you to the nearest hospital to receive proper care. Cone Health Stroke Center, located at Moses Cone Hospital, has a highly-specialized team that coordinates a state-of-the-art program to identify and treat stroke patients quickly and effectively.
Dr. Jindong Xu is vascular neurologist at Guilford Neurological Associates and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Xu completed medical school at the Tongji Medical University in Wuhan, China and earned his Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto in Canada. He completed his residency in neurology as well as a fellowship in vascular neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Dr. Xu is board-certified in Neurology.