May is National Stroke Awareness Month

Dr. Brian Kelly, director of neurology at Aria Health, says that to prevent stroke, most Americans need to make lifestyle adjustments. He offers the below tips to proactively reduce your risk of stroke.

Develop a relationship with your primary care physician – The American Stroke Association lists hypertension, or high blood pressure, as the leading cause of stroke.  By scheduling regular physicals, you’ll have a better handle on risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar and your weight.

Exercise daily – Since physical inactivity causes many stroke risk factors, exercising for at least 30 minutes every day is important for your heart health.  Even going for a brisk walk each day will decrease your risk of stroke.

Stop smoking – Nicotine and carbon monoxide found in cigarette smoke harms your cardiovascular system in many ways, which can ultimately lead to a stroke.

Improve your diet – Foods high in saturated fat and trans fat can raise your cholesterol, and excess calories contribute to obesity. A better diet overall will improve your heart health. Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables has been found to reduce your risk of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.

Call 9-1-1 – If you receive treatment within 3 hours of stroke, you can potentially reverse the effects. Every second counts, so if you suspect stroke, call 9-1-1 or have someone drive you to the Emergency Room immediately.

In addition to these lifestyle adjustments, Dr. Kelly also lists the following as signs that you may be suffering from stroke: drooping or issues moving your face, weakness or troubled coordination on one side of your body, slurred speech or loss of understanding, loss of balance, and dizziness