Stroke Awareness Q&A

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In this Q&A video, Neurologist Saumya Gill, M.D., and family medicine physician Jennifer Handy, DO, explain why time is of the essence when treating a stroke and offer guidance on how to decrease your risk of stroke in honor of Stroke Awareness Month observed in May.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes, a stroke claims a life.

Nearly 800,000 people are affected by stroke every year, making it the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of permanent disability among adults in the United States.

According to the CDC, women are at a higher risk of stroke than men. Additionally, women are more likely to die from a stroke than men. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death among women, as it kills twice as many women as breast cancer does.

Certain lifestyle choices can increase or decrease your risk of stroke. One factor causing a rapid increase in stroke in people ages 20 to 40 is drug use. Studies show that the use of cocaine and amphetamines are strongly linked to stroke occurrence. Drug use has become increasingly prevalent in people under the age of 40. Ceasing drug use decreases your risk of stroke significantly.

Decreasing Your Risk of Stroke

Other ways to decrease your risk of stroke that are within your control are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing any pre-existing conditions you may have that are putting you at risk for stroke, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor diet
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity

Dr. Gill is a board-certified neurologist at Novant Health UVA Health System with a special interest in stroke. Dr. Handy is a board-certified family medicine physician at Novant Health UVA Health System Bull Run Family Medicine – Manassas with special interest in chronic disease management and treatment. They are both passionate about helping their patients implement a healthy lifestyle to lower their risk for stroke.

For more information about neurology and stroke services available at Novant Health UVA Health System, visit

For more information about primary care services available at Novant Health UVA Health System, visit



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