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5 Signs of a Stroke & Tips for Prevention

According to the CDC, over 795,000 Americans have a stroke every year. Learn about stroke symptoms and prevention here.

By Clover Health

According to the CDC, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke every year—that’s someone in the U.S. having a stroke every 40 seconds. And every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. 

Stroke is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability, and it reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors over age 65.

Are you worried about your risk of a stroke? Here are 5 common signs of a stroke and some ways you can prevent one.

What Is a Stroke?

Let’s start with the basics. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Blood vessel ruptures or blockage can stop oxygen-rich blood from getting to the cells in certain parts of your brain. These disruptions can damage cells, or the cells can die quickly, which can lead to permanent brain damage or disability.

Types of Strokes

There are 3 main types of strokes, according to the CDC: ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, and transient ischemic attack.

  • Ischemic strokes: These account for approximately 87% of strokes. Most strokes are caused by a blockage in an artery, such as a blood clot that blocks blood flow.

  • Hemorrhagic strokes: When an artery in the brain ruptures, blood begins to flow into the surrounding tissue rather than reaching the cells. High blood pressure is a risk factor for this kind of stroke.
  • Transient ischemic attack: Often called a mini-stroke, this stroke only disrupts blood flow for a few minutes. This can be a warning sign of having a future stroke.

5 Signs of a Stroke

There are 5 main signs of a stroke. Here’s what to look out for.

  1. Sudden numbness on one side of your body—you may also feel a weakness in your arm, leg, or face, or have drooping of one side of your face or body
  2. Sudden difficulty speaking, including feeling confused, having trouble understanding speech, and slurring speech
  3. Sudden difficulty seeing—you may have a hard time seeing in one or both eyes, and part of your vision might be dark or blurry
  4. Sudden dizziness, including losing your balance and having trouble walking
  5. Sudden pounding or severe headache

Get Help F.A.S.T

If you think you or someone near you is having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.

  • Face. Look carefully at the person’s face. Is one side droopy? Does their smile seem lopsided?
  • Arms. Ask the person to raise and lower their arms. Is one arm hard to lift, or drifting downwards?
  • Speech. Listen carefully to what they're saying. If their speech is slurred, they may be having a stroke.
  • Time. If you notice any of these signs of a stroke, act fast. Call 911 and get help as quickly as possible.

A stroke can cause permanent brain damage or disability in just a few minutes. Immediate medical help is vital, and rapid treatment saves function. Do not waste any time getting to an emergency room for evaluation. 

5 Tips to Prevent Stroke

There are a few major risk factors that increase your risk of having a stroke, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and a previous stroke or mini-stroke. There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of a stroke.

  • Eat a healthy diet. When you eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, beans, and fruits, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of a stroke.
  • Limit sodium and sugar. Stay away from very salty or very sweet foods. This can help maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Stay active: Doing a few simple exercises every day can help you maintain your overall health and prevent a stroke.
  • Quit smoking: Stop smoking to improve your lung health and reduce your risk of a stroke. 
  • Limit or quit drinking: Even light alcohol consumption may increase your risk of stroke, so limit how much you drink.
  • Take your medications as directed: Managing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia will reduce your stroke risk.

Help Prevent a Stroke with Regular Checkups

Getting regular checkups with your primary care physician can help you stay healthy. Your doctor will monitor your heart health, check your blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you manage diabetes. They’ll also give you tips to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Medicare Advantage plans, like those offered by Clover Health, offer several benefits to help you live healthier. Learn more about Clover Health’s Medicare Advantage plans here or by calling 1-855-203-1461 (TTY 711) 8 am–8 pm local time, 7 days a week.* And if you already are a Clover Health member, you can use our online tools to find a doctor and access supplemental benefits for dental, vision, hearing, fitness, and more.


Published on 8/27/21

Photo credit: Getty