Stroke Education & Outreach

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Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke — the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Houston Methodist’s stroke education and outreach program offers resources and support for patients and families impacted by stroke.  

Stroke education creates a healthier community. Houston Methodist’s stroke outreach team provides education for patients, families, community members and health care professionals.  

During a stroke, brain cells and tissue begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen, resulting in brain damage. All strokes are dangerous and can be deadly if not treated quickly. If you suspect stroke, don’t wait — call 911 right away.

Stroke Resources

What are the signs of stroke? 

Strokes can occur suddenly and unexpectedly, and a simple way to detect their signs and symptoms is to use the BE FAST test:


  • B is for BALANCE – Is the patient dizzy? Ask if they feel they’re about to lose their footing. 
  • E is for EYES – Is the patient’s vision distorted? Ask if they can see clearly. 
  • F is for FACE – Does one side of the patient’s face droop or seem uneven? Can the patient give an even smile? 
  • A is for ARMS – Does one arm drift down? Can the patient raise both arms? 
  • S is for SPEECH – Is the patient having trouble speaking? Ask them to repeat a simple phrase, such as BE FAST. 
  • T is for TIME – If you observe any of these symptoms, time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately. 


A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. This can happen in two ways:


  • Ischemic strokes happen when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel. 
  • Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into brain tissue.


Other signs of stroke can include: 


  • Vision problems 
  • Confusion 
  • Trouble walking or loss of balance 
  • Sudden, severe headache without a known cause 

Am I at risk of stroke?

Stroke can be caused by a wide variety of factors — including age, gender, race, lifestyle and health history. Although genetics can play a role, most cases of stroke can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and managing existing medical conditions, including:  


  • Not smoking 
  • Controlling blood pressure 
  • Staying physically active 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Eating a balanced diet, cutting down on fat and sugar 
  • Controlling your blood sugar if you are diabetic 
  • Lowering your cholesterol levels 
  • Keeping a regular sleep schedule  
  • Limiting alcohol  
  • Avoiding illegal drugs 


In addition to lifestyle, there are many factors that put you at greater risk of stroke that are out of your control. Being aware of your unique risks can help you take preventive steps to minimize your chance of stroke. 

Stroke risk factors outside your control include:  


  • Age — Your risk of stroke increases with age. Although it’s more common among people over 65, stroke can affect people of all ages.  
  • Gender — Stroke affects both men and women, but women are more likely to be killed by stroke. Factors that increase likelihood of stroke in women include pregnancy, oral contraceptive use and hormone replacement therapy after menopause.   
  • Race and ethnicity — Certain races and ethnicities have a greater risk of stroke. For example, African Americans, Latinos and American Indians have a much higher risk of first-time stroke than Caucasians. Smoking greatly increases stroke risks in these populations, as does co-occurring conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.  
  • Heart and vascular diseases —The link between heart disease and stroke is widely known. If you have atrial fibrillation, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or have had a prior heart attack, you are at greater risk for stroke.  
  • TIA or prior stroke — TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), also known as “mini-strokes,” are often the first sign that a larger stroke is on the way.  


According to the American Stroke Association, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading cause of stroke. It’s important to know your numbers and understand what they mean for your health. Talk to your doctor about your health and ask what you can do to minimize your stroke risk.

What if I need help with stroke recovery?

Recovering from stroke is often a long road, but support is available. Depending on the type of stroke, the area of the brain impacted, and the extent of the damage, it’s common for people to experience a range of behavioral changes after a stroke. Fortunately, many of these behaviors improve over time.  

Caregiver support groups and the rehabilitation experts at Houston Methodist can help you support your loved one and address these issues, which may include:


Types of Stroke

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Houston Methodist offers rapid diagnosis and comprehensive stroke care for all types of stroke.

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