Signs of a Stroke and How To Reduce Risk By Getting Heart Healthy

Every year in Ireland, 10,000 people suffer from a stroke.  About 25% of these result in death.   Figures have been improving, but lifestyle factors are feared to be reversing gains made in recent years.  Would you be able to recognise the signs of a stroke? 

Signs of a Stroke – How to recognise them

The recognition tool for Stroke is FAST as follows:

F – FACE Is their face drooping on one side? If so, this is suspicious for stroke.

A – ARM Ask the person to lift both their arms and hold them there. If they can’t lift one arm or it begins to fall on one side, then this is suspicious for stroke

S – SPEECH Ask them to state their name and address. Is their speech slurred? Have they difficulty getting their words out? Have they difficulty understanding you? If yes to any of these then this is suspicious of stroke

T – TIME “Time is Brain”- if yes to any of the above get emergency help!


Although the FAST test demonstrates the ‘classic’ signs of stroke, it is important to recognise other less common symptoms. These include

  • Dizziness/ataxia, 
  • Sudden onset of confusion, 
  • Sudden onset headache, 
  • Nausea/vomiting, 
  • Visual disturbance.

Every stroke is different and affects each person differently. For example, If a person has stroke symptoms which disappear very quickly, they may have had a TIA or mini-stroke. A TIA should be treated as an emergency because there is a risk of having another TIA or a stroke.

Reduce Stroke risk with lifestyle changes that will keep your heart well long beyond Valentine’s Day.

Lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your Stroke risk

  1. Stop smoking – this is the single most crucial step you can take to live longer, and it dramatically reduces your risk of heart disease and Stroke.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight for your height – Health risks are higher if the extra weight carried is mostly around the waist – waist size should be below 37 inches for men and 32 inches for women.
  3. Reduce your Fat intake – choose cooking methods which do not involve the use of fat, e.g. boil, bake, grill, roast (on a rack), microwave, stew, steam or pressure cook.
  4. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake – A diet that is rich in a range of vegetables and fruit lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
  5. Regularly exercise – this will help lose weight and to feel good aim for 150 minutes per week (this could be done in 30 minutes 5 days a week)

Dietary changes that will help you reduce your risk of Stroke

  • Increase your intake of oily fish (Omega-3 fats) – The best source of Omega 3’s is oily fish, e.g. salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, kippers, pilchards and fresh tuna. Fresh frozen or tinned fish are suitable, except tinned tuna which is low in Omega-3’s, aim for two portions of fish weekly, one of which should be oily.
  • Reduce your salt intake will help lower blood pressure – Avoid high salt foods, e.g. soups, sauces, processed foods, takeaways.
  • Avoid excess alcohol – Alcohol is high in calories and can damage health if too much is consumed. The maximum recommended amount per day is: 3 – 4 units for men (max 17 units/week) and 2 – 3 units for women (max 11 units/week)

For more information about Heart Health and lifestyle visit the Irish Heart Foundation

A stroke is a medical emergency – if you or someone else have a sudden onset of any of the above symptoms, you should call an ambulance or attend your nearest Hospital Emergency Department for evaluation as soon as possible. If in doubt- go to A&E. Time is Brain and every minute counts in suspected stroke.

If you or a loved one needs support at home following on from a Stroke please contact Applewood Homecare to find out how we can help you.