Brain & Spine

How To Lower Your Risk for Stroke

How can you reduce your risk of stroke and what are the common signs to look for? We asked Stroke Center specialist Dr. Chris Burke.

Feb. 10, 2021 3   min read

How to lower your risk

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our Rochester Regional Health Stroke Centers and hospitals across the country have seen an increase in stroke patients. It seems likely that the coronavirus is causing an increased risk of blood clots, which are the primary catalysts for a stroke.

How can you reduce your risk of stroke and what are the common signs to look for? We asked Dr. Chris Burke, Chair of Neurology at Rochester General Hospital and Associate Chair of the Rochester Regional Health Stroke Centers.

What can you do to reduce your stroke risk?

“While some things that cause stroke aren’t things you can control (like age and gender), most risk factors can be managed or eliminated,” said Dr. Burke. “And many strokes are entirely preventable through this risk factor management.”

Things you can do to reduce your risk for stroke include:

  • With the help of your doctor, treat your health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, circulatory problems and obesity.
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sodium with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Don’t smoke or use other forms of tobacco and limit exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol.

How can you tell if you’re having a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow in the brain is interrupted or blocked and oxygen and nutrients are prevented from reaching a part of your brain.

If you experience any of the symptoms below, Dr. Burke recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately. “For every minute that a blood vessel in the brain is blocked, nearly two million brain cells are damaged. If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke, get to the hospital immediately. Time is brain.”

Recognize the signs of stroke – “FAST”:

  • F: Face drooping
  • A: Arm weakness
  • S: Speech Difficulty
  • T: Time to call 911

If you need treatment, Rochester Regional Health's Stroke Centers are here. With rigorous training in rapid-response procedures, we lead the region in the number of stroke cases treated and in how quickly treatment is delivered. Our experience allows us to provide fast and reliable diagnoses, exceptional care, and specialized follow-up.

Learn more about the Rochester Regional Health Stroke Centers