SARASOTA - When it comes to preventing a stroke, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Outpatient Care Coordinator Wanda Jackson says a lot of it is in our hands.

“Reduce stress, know how to manage stress; weight is a big issue, so reduce your body mass index,” Jackson said. "Exercise is important to pump that blood through those arteries and our brain.”

Be mindful of what you’re putting in your body.

“Eat right; lower the sodium contents and the fat contents," Jackson said. She says a Mediterranean diet is best to lower your risk of stroke.

“Those are all things we can do. Non-modifiables are things like our genetics, our family history, our age,” Jackson said.

At age 55+ you’re at a higher risk of a stroke. Jackson says in dealing with stroke patients, she often sees regret.

“Hindsight is always 20/20," Jackson said. "Things that they make the mistake on is they’re not feeling quite right, and it may not fall into that 'be fast' category of signs and symptoms, or it’s a mild symptom, so they just take a nap and think, 'Oh, I'll feel better when I wake up.'"

She says that is one of the worst things you can do.

“...sudden loss of vision of an eye, they’ll make an appointment with their doctor for next week and at that point it’s all too late," Jackson said.

While we can’t 100% prevent a stroke, we can prevent it from getting worse by listening to our bodies.

“Trust your instincts; trust your gut," Jackson said.

Sarasota Memorial has several resources to help stroke patients, including free cooking programs and lecture series. 

There's an Aphasia Awareness Dinner coming up June 8 at 6:15 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church.