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Stroke risk factors and warning signs

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Know the risk factors and warning signs of a stroke

Knowing the risk factors for stroke and working with your dedicated care team to lower your risk can reduce your chance of having a stroke.

If a stroke happens, rapid treatment will give you the best opportunity for a full recovery. That’s why it’s also important to know the warning signs for stroke and what to do if they occur.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call

911

Stroke risk factors

Anyone – males, females, people of all ages and races – can have a stroke; however, certain risk factors can increase your risk of having a stroke. The good news is that you can reduce your chance of having a stroke by living a healthy lifestyle and, if needed, working with our dedicated Novant Health care team to reduce your risk.

These risk factors can be controlled with medication or healthy lifestyle changes:

  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Circulation problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity

These risk factors cannot be controlled:

  • Age (people over age 55 are at a higher risk)
  • Gender (males are at a higher risk)
  • Family history
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO, or hole in the heart)
  • Previous stroke history
  • Race (African Americans, Asians / Pacific Islanders and Hispanics are at higher risk)

If you have several of these risk factors, talk with your Novant Health physician about how to manage your stroke risk. If you do not have a physician, contact us to find one near you today.


Stroke warning signs

During a stroke, every minute counts. Treatment is most effective when started right away. If you have any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Sudden blurred vision, dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden problems with coordination, movement or walking
  • Sudden, severe headaches with no known cause

Other symptoms of stroke that are less common may include:

  • Sudden nausea, vomiting or fever not caused by a virus
  • Brief loss of or change in consciousness, such as fainting, confusion or seizures

The FAST acronym is an easy way to remember the warning signs of a stroke and what to do:

  • F – Facial paralysis
  • A – Arm weakness
  • S – Speech difficulties
  • T – “Time to call 911”

Do not ignore these warning signs, even if they go away. You may have other medical problems, including a transient ischemic attack (TIA). These “mini-strokes” are very serious. Call 911 for help if you experience symptoms of a stroke.

If you suffer a stroke, we’re dedicated to caring for you when and where you need us. Novant Health’s hospitals are nationally recognized by The Joint Commission for advanced stroke care and our talented clinicians are available 24 hours a day. This means we can offer world-class stroke treatment more quickly, improving your chance for a healthy recovery.

Remember – if you or a loved one exhibits stroke warning signs, call 911 right away.