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A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked. When blood can’t get to the brain, brain cells begin to die within minutes. 

There are two types of stroke

  1. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to your brain
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a broken blood vessel leaks blood into the brain 

No matter the type, a stroke needs immediate medical help.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Stroke can happen in people of any age, sex or race. You can control some stroke risk factors but not others. These conditions may increase your risk for stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight 
  • Diabetes 

Some risk factors you can’t change include:

  • Age – Your stroke chances increase with age.
  • Sex – Stroke is more common in men but kills more women than men.
  • Family history – If your parents, grandparents or siblings have had a stroke, your risk is higher.
  • Race – Those who are Black and Hispanic have strokes more often and at a younger age than those who are white.
  • Stroke or heart attack history – If you have had a stroke or heart attack before, your chances of having another stroke go up.

Stroke Prevention

You can make lifestyle changes to prevent stroke, such as: 

  • Being physically active 
  • Eating a healthy diet 
  • Checking your blood pressure often
  • Limiting alcohol use 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing stress, which contributes to unhealthy behaviors
  • Quitting smoking or vaping

You can also reduce your risk by getting medical care for health conditions that contribute to stroke. Work with your doctor to treat and manage health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea. Schedule an appointment with a University Health primary care provider.

It takes a team to help you get better after a stroke because it can cause long-term disability. Most patients need rehabilitation. That means working with therapists and physicians who help you regain lost skills. 

There are several treatment options for patients for long-term disability from strokes from inpatient rehabilitation, casting, therapy, interventional therapies, and robotic therapies. 

Know the Signs & Act in Time

Learn about the signs of stroke and the importance of fast emergency treatment.

BE FAST is an acronym used to know the signs of stroke. The letters stand for: 

B – Balance

The person may suddenly have trouble with balance or coordination.

E – Eyes

They could experience sudden blurred, double or total loss of vision. This can happen in one or both eyes.

F – Face

Do you notice one side of their face drooping? Ask the person to smile.

A – Arms

Are they experiencing weakness in one arm? If they raise both arms, does one drift down?

S – Speech

Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a short sentence like, “Remember the Alamo.” Do they repeat the sentence correctly?

T – Time to get help

If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 and get the person to a hospital immediately.

Stroke in Bexar County

Stroke is a big health concern in Bexar County and the United States. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association’s 2023 Update [PDF]. In 2020, someone died of a stroke every 3 minutes and 17 seconds on average.

The stroke death rate in Bexar County for people aged 35 and older was 88 per 100,000 people from 2018 to 2020. This is higher than the state of Texas (78) and the nation (73).

In Bexar County, Black people had the highest death rate from stroke: 103 per 100,000. Hispanic people had a rate of 89, and White people had a rate of 84.

The 2022 Bexar County Community Health Needs Assessment [PDF] shows the percentage of adults who have ever received a diagnosis of a stroke. The percent in the Near Eastside sector was much higher at 16% than in other areas. The next highest were the Near Westside at 6% and the Southwest at 5%.