Seven ways you can prevent a stroke

St. Joseph’s/Candler treated more than 700 strokes in 2016. Across the nation, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of those are first-time strokes. 

Dorethea Peters, St. Joseph's/Candler Stroke Program Coordinator
Dorethea Peters, MSN, SCRN, RN-BC, St. Joseph’s/Candler Stroke Program coordinator

A number we should all be aware of is 80. Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented if people know the risk factors and follow their doctor’s orders, says Dorethea Peters, MSN, SCRN, RN-BC, St. Joseph’s/Candler Stroke Program coordinator.

A stroke is a disruption of blood flow to certain areas of the brain. The brain constantly needs a supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to work properly. If blood supply is stopped, even for a short time, this can cause problems.

There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs from loss of blood flow to the brain, resulting in death of brain tissue. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a reputed blood vessel bleeds into brain tissue, which also is damaging to the brain.

“Eight-five percent of your strokes are going to be caused by a blood clot,” Peters says. “Only 15 percent are bleeds, but 80 percent of those are going to be severe and half of those are going to die.”

Related Article: What are the signs of a stroke?

As the SJ/C Stroke Program coordinator, Peters is responsible for educating not only hospital staff at St. Joseph’s and Candler Hospitals, but also seven regional hospitals in the Stroke NET-work and community members in Coastal Georgia.  One of the things she emphasizes is the importance of prevention.

Here are seven ways you can prevent a stroke:

  1. Exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes a day for a minimum of three days a week. More is better, Peters says, but be sure to set realistic expectations.
  2. Follow a healthy diet. Peters recommends cutting back on foods high in fat, salt and sugar. She also suggests limiting fried foods and watching carbohydrate intake. A healthy diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fiber.
  3. Take your medications as prescribed, especially if you are on a blood pressure medication.
  4. Have annual check-ups with your physician. Routine visits with your doctor will help monitor potential risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. If you currently do not have a primary care physician, you can request an appointment with one of our medical group practices here
  5. Know the risk factors that lead to stroke including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol use and drug abuse. There are some risk factors that you can’t change but should still be aware of including:
           • African Americans are twice as likely to have a stroke as their Caucasian counterparts
           • Males have a tendency to have strokes more than females do
           • Females, however, are more prone to die from a stroke than males
           • If you’ve had a stroke or heart attack in the past, you are more likely to have another one
  6. If you are overweight, get your Body Mass Index down. Adults with a BMI greater than 30 are at higher risk of suffering a stroke. Not sure what your BMI is? Find out on our BMI Calculator and talk to your physician about your result.
  7. Know the warning signs. Strokes are treatable and getting fast treatment is important in preventing death or disability from stroke.

Think F.A.S.T. 

Stroke is usually sudden. If you or someone you know may be experiencing a stroke, it’s important to think F.A. S.T. and look for these signs:

F – Facial drooping

A – Arm drifting, weakness or numbness

S – Speech is slurred or gargled or there’s an inability to speak at all

T – Time – call 9-1-1 immediately

Time is critical. If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, note the time and call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information about the Stroke Program at St. Joseph’s/Candler, click here.  

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000