Guest Commentary

Kenny: Your health is in your hands during American Stroke Month


Editor’s Note: Katherine Kenny is a board certified adult nurse practitioner and current president of the Phoenix American Heart Association Board.

Strokes can happen to anyone, at any age. According to reports, globally about one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.

During American Stroke Month, the American Heart Association is teaching people everywhere that stroke is largely preventable, treatable, and beatable.

A stroke happens when normal blood flow in the brain is interrupted. A stroke can be caused by either a blood clot in the brain or bleeding in the brain. When parts of the brain don’t get the oxygen-rich blood they need, those affected brain cells die. In cases of stroke, response time matters.

Unfortunately, most adults in the U.S. don’t know the F.A.S.T warning signs of a stroke.

Your health is in your hands. Here are six ways you can act now to beat stroke:

  •  Learn how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T. If you see Face drooping, Arm weakness or Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911. Learn more at
  •  Watch the new F.A.S.T. public service announcement featuring celebrities touched by stroke.
  •  Prevent another stroke — Talk to your health care provider about managing risk factors to help prevent a second stroke. Learn more at
  •  Take control of your blood pressure — Reduce your risk for stroke by knowing your blood pressure and keeping it in a healthy range.
  •  Raise your voice — Join the American Stroke Association’s You’re The Cure advocacy community at
  •  Donate funds — Make a gift to defeat stroke at

Stroke prevention

A large majority of strokes can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes such as moving more, healthy eating, managing your blood pressure, getting healthy sleep, and quitting smoking and vaping.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are major risk factors for stroke. High blood pressure is a leading cause and a controllable risk factor for stroke. It’s important to know your numbers and work with a health care professional to manage risks.

According to studies, people with atrial fibrillation — also called AFib — are up to five times more likely to have a stroke. AFib is caused by a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Additionally, having a stroke puts you at a higher risk for a second one. Good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your risk, starting with identifying what caused your stroke and identifying all of your personal risk factors.