Share | Print | Email Stroke Prevention

A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain. Without blood, certain brain cells may die. The resulting brain damage can lead to the loss of some bodily functions.

Severe strokes can cause death, because too much of the brain is left without blood for too long of a time. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

In stroke, a variety of problems may stop blood from getting to the brain:

  • Blood clots may block blood in veins or arteries in the head and neck
  • Veins or arteries in the neck and head may become too narrow due to "hardening of the arteries", or due to extreme high blood pressure
  • Veins or arteries may burst within the brain (cerebral hemorrhage)
  • A Transient Ischemic Attack (T.I.A.- or mini-stroke) is often a sign that a serious stroke is on its way. A mini-stroke is a sudden but temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain. Mini-strokes may cause you to temporarily:
  • Feel a sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm and/or leg (on one side of the body)
  • Lose your ability to speak
  • Experience dizziness
  • Have blurred or double vision (especially in one eye)
  • If you have experienced any of these symptoms (alone or in combination), call your doctor.
  • Mini-stroke symptoms also can lead to falls, another health hazard for older persons. Falls can cause broken hips and other injuries which may have serious complications. Remember, if you think you've had a mini-stroke, call your doctor.
  • Keep your blood pressure in check.
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is found to be high, talk to your doctor about ways to lower it. You may need to adjust your diet or take drugs to lower your blood pressure.
  • Eat a low-fat diet.
  • Being overweight and eating a high-fat diet may contribute to high blood pressure and the formation of blood clots which cause strokes.
  • High-fat diets are linked to high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is known to increase your risk of stroke.
  • Quit smoking
  • Smoking has been linked to increased risk of stroke.
  • Do not drink alcohol to excess.
  • Heavy drinkers have been shown to be at increased risk of stroke.
  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Some persons are at greater risk for stroke because it runs in their families. Also, persons with diabetes and heart disease are more likely to suffer strokes. If you have any of these risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about medications and treatments to prevent stroke.
  • Get immediate attention for "Mini-Strokes".