While the number of stroke patients is high, there are a number of controllable risk factors.

Control your risk for stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. That’s about 800,000 strokes each year. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in this country, and the leading cause of adult disability.

Recognize the sudden symptoms of a stroke:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg
  • Confusion or trouble speaking
  • Loss of balance or trouble walking

While the number of stroke patients is high, there are a number of controllable risk factors. Those include:

  • Diet: Eat more plant-based food choices and consume less sodium, sugar and processed foods
  • Body weight: Get to and maintain a lean weight
  • Activity and exercise: Enjoy at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity
  • Don’t smoke
  • Consume modest alcohol amounts: If you choose to drink, no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Uncontrollable risk factors of a stroke:

  • Age or getting older 
  • Gender - being female increases risk 
  • Having a family history of strokes 
  • Race – African Americans have a higher risk

Medical risk factors of a stroke:

  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Diabetes

During May, which is National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association wants us to remember to act FAST if you suspect a stroke and to get the person to the hospital quickly.

Face drooping
Arm weakness
Speech difficulty
Time to call 911

Recipes to help reduce stroke risk:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.