Stroke: How to Prevent One, How to Recognize One


Most of us can say we know someone who has had a stroke. The facts speak volumes:

  • A stroke happens every 40 seconds in the United States
  • Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke
  • It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States
  • Although they occur more commonly in those over the age of 65 years, it can occur at any age. The number of strokes occurring in people under the age of 60 years is climbing at an alarming rate.

The UVM Medical Center Stroke program wants to educate our community on the prevention of stroke and how to recognize symptoms to ensure timely treatment.

Stroke: How to Prevent One

There are some risk factors beyond our control: age, gender, race/ethnicity, and genetic factors.

That said, by controlling other factors, 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. These include:

  • Ensuring a healthy diet and controlling one’s weight
  • Staying physically active
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol intake
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy normal blood pressure
  • Keeping diabetes under control
  • Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol
  • Controlling atrial fibrillation and if required taking appropriate blood thinners

How to Recognize the Symptoms

The earlier one recognizes and initiates treatment, the better the chances of a good recovery. Recognizing the symptoms and immediately calling 911 is the single most important step in surviving a stroke. Getting a stroke victim to a hospital, preferably a certified stroke center, for treatment provides the best assurance that they will survive this event and have a good functional recovery.

Use the acronym F.A.S.T to quickly assess someone who may be having a stroke. It stands for:

  • Facial Droop – can the person smile normally or does one side of the face droop
  • Arm Weakness – When the person raises both arms, does one arm drift downward
  • Speech Difficulty – Can the person speak normally or is speech slurred
  • Time to call 911- If you see any of these symptoms, immediately call 911

For more information

You may also go to the American Heart Association website at

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