Stroke Awareness Month is recognized in May every year. It’s a good time for everyone to learn or remind themselves about the risk factors, symptoms, and what to do if you or someone else experiences a stroke.


A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by either a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. It is a medical emergency because brain cells begin to die without blood flow. Stroke can cause permanent disability or death without immediate treatment.


Stroke is currently the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to the prevalence of stroke, it is important to know the signs and be ready to act if one is suspected.


Risk Factors for Stroke

A number of medical conditions, lifestyle choices and other factors can increase the risk of stroke.


Medical Risk Factors

  • Previous Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle Cell Disease


Lifestyle and Other Risk Factors

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being physically inactive
  • Eating a diet high in fat
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • COVID-19 infection
  • Use of some birth control pills or hormone-replacement therapy containing estrogen
  • Being 55 years of age or older
  • Being female
  • Being African American or Hispanic



Symptoms of Stroke and Taking Action
The easiest way to remember the signs of stroke (and the correct action to take) is with the acronym F.A.S.T.


Face Drooping: one side of the face may droop or be numb.

Arm Weakness: difficulty raising one arm.

Speech Difficulty: slurring words.

Time to call 911.


People suffering from stroke may also experience sudden numbness on one side of the body, confusion, loss of coordination or balance, difficulty walking, vision trouble, and severe headache.


If you or anyone around you experiences signs of stroke, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait for symptoms to improve or go away. In addition to taking prompt action to call emergency medical assistance, taking note of the time that the symptoms began is helpful information for first responders. You should seek emergency medical attention even if the signs of stroke seem to go away.


In addition to being ready to take action if you or someone else experiences a stroke, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk of stroke.


  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet, avoiding saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Get plenty of regular physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation.



The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.