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Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

You can help reduce your risk of stroke by making healthy lifestyle changes. These are the most important steps you can take to lower your risk of stroke:

  • Keep your blood pressure in the normal range.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Keep your blood sugar (glucose) in the normal range.
  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you have heart disease, treat it.
  • Keep your cholesterol (“koh-LEHS-tuh-rahl”) levels in the normal range.

Making these healthy changes will also help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Learn more about healthy living habits that can help prevent stroke:

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Am I at risk for stroke?
High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure has no signs or symptoms, so be sure to get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.

If you are worried about your blood pressure, ask your doctor if you need to get it checked more often. You can also talk about whether measuring your blood pressure at home is right for you.

Other risk factors for stroke include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • An irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation)
  • High cholesterol

You are at greater risk of having a stroke as you grow older. You may also be more at risk if someone in your family has had a stroke. Make sure you know your family’s medical history and share it with your doctor.

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What is a stroke?
A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked, which can hurt or kill cells in the brain.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in adults. It’s also a common cause of brain damage and long-term disability.

What are the effects of stroke?
Stroke can affect the whole body. A stroke can cause problems with:

  • Thinking and speaking
  • Moving your muscles (called paralysis)
  • Emotions

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How do I know if I’m having a stroke?
A stroke happens suddenly – and usually with little warning. Signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 right away if you or someone else has signs of stroke. Your chances of survival and recovery from a stroke are better if you get emergency treatment immediately.

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What is a mini-stroke?
A mini-stroke, also called a TIA, has the same symptoms as a stroke, but they don’t last as long. TIA stands for transient ischemic (“is-KEM-ik”) attack.

A TIA happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked for a short period of time – usually a couple of minutes. If you’ve had a TIA, you are at greater risk for a stroke.

Never ignore a TIA. Call 911 right away if you or someone you are with has signs of stroke.

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