More than 160,000 people die from strokes each year and the number could go down if people get screened.
Willie Askew, 78, says the symptoms came on suddenly with blurry vision and weakness.
Askew was not too worried but went to the hospital after the urging of his family.
Sure enough, the doctors at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. found something very wrong.
Askew was having a stroke.
Providence hospital neurologist Dr. Muneshwar Tiwari says Askew's stroke was caused by blocked arteries in his brain, the result of high cholesterol and hypertension, two risk factors that could have been treated early if he had just been tested.
"Anybody over 50 that has family members at risk and family with risk factors that don't even know it themselves, should be screened for it," said Tiwari.
Besides high blood pressure and cholesterol, Tiwari says other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, tobacco use and living a sedentary lifestyle.
By screening and treating those risk factors, studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
Askew didn't get to the hospital in time to get stroke-reversing medication that has to be given within three hours of the stroke, but doctors gave him other types of treatment, including blood thinners and blood pressure drugs.
"He has more or less recovered from his stroke and he's doing great," said Tiwari.