May marks National Stroke Awareness Month. Hypertension remains the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes. Eight in 10 people experiencing their first stroke have hypertension.

Research has shown that unhealthy behaviors such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking have an adverse effect on health and increase your stroke risk. Smokers have an increased risk of stroke, up to two to four times, compared to a nonsmoker.

Fewer than half of 9-1-1 calls for stroke are made within one hour of symptom onset. Use the acronym FAST to identify common stroke symptoms:

F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred?
T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1.