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Published on May 25, 2021

stroke article
Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke. Around 600,000 of them are the first stroke, while the others, nearly one in four, are a repeat stroke. Sadly, almost 140,000 of these stroke victims die from stroke. Almost 200,000 people who suffer a stroke with have another stroke within five years.

The best way to prevent stroke is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle incorporates many habits, including:

  • Consume a healthy diet:
    A diet full of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lots of water will help prevent stroke. Choose foods low in saturated fat and watch sodium consumption.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and BMI:
    Obesity increases your risk of stroke. Your doctor can calculate your BMI and determine if it is at a healthy level. You can calculate your BMI on this page.
  • Exercise:
    Physical activity helps people keep a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Two hours and 30m minutes of moderate-intensity activity, like a brisk walk, are recommended weekly by the Surgeon General.
  • Don’t smoke:
    Smoking increases your risk of stroke. If you don’t smoke now, don’t start smoking. If you do, quitting will lower your risk significantly. If you want to quit, there are some tools that can help! One is the NC Quitline; you can call 800.QUIT.NOW (800.784.8669) to speak with trained tobacco quitting specialists. Another resource is available at UNC Lenoir Health Care – their 2021 Quit For Life Tobacco Cessation Program. You can register by contacting Gail Carraway at 252.522.7014.
  • Work on lowering your blood pressure:
    High blood pressure is a precursor for stroke. A blood pressure of 120/80 is ideal. To help regulate your blood pressure, reduce salt intake, avoid foods high in saturated fat, and increase polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats.

To recognize signs of stroke, it’s important to become familiar with the acronym F.A.S.T. This acronym is crucial because if you think that someone you’re with is having a stroke, F.A.S.T is an easy way to remember and identify the most common signs.

Here is what F.A.S.T means:

F stands for FACE. Look at the possible stroke victim and ask them to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

stands for ARM.  Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S stands for SPEECH. Look at them and ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T stands for TIME. If you observe any of these signs, even if the signs go away or seem better, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Why is time of the essence? It is because recognition of stroke and calling 9-1-1 will determine how quickly someone will receive help and treatment. Getting to a hospital rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery. 

What if you’re not sure? Call 911 anyway. No matter what, calling 911 is the best thing to do, even if you’re not 100% sure someone is having a stroke.

You can feel confident with the team at UNC Lenoir Health Care, as they are a Certified Primary Stroke Center. You or your loved one will receive high-quality care and advanced technology in our state-of-the-art facility. For more about our Stroke Center, visit us on the web at