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understanding stroke

Each year about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, making stroke the nation's third-leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted by a clot or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or there is sudden bleeding into or around the brain. There are two forms of stroke: ischemic - blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain, and hemorrhagic bleeding into or around the brain.

Preventing A Stroke

Some people are more at risk of stroke than others. Some factors can't be changed - like your genes or your age. However, simple lifestyle changes may prevent you from having a stroke. If you have already had a stroke, such changes may help prevent stroke happening again.

Primary Prevention Of Stroke

Primary prevention of stroke uses an individually-based approach to disease prevention in otherwise healthy individuals who have modifiable risk factors. Primary prevention is usually implemented in the primary care setting with your primary care physician or nurse who may initiate a discussion of stroke risk reduction. Common topics for these discussions include the importance of managing risk factors by:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a healthy, low-fat diet
  • Taking appropriate medications to reduce specific risks such as high blood pressure

Warning Signs

The symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in arms or legs, speaking or difficulty understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache with no known cause.

When Stroke Happens

A stroke can be a frightening experience for both the person affected and their family. A stroke involves a lot of immediate medical treatment and sometimes months or years of ongoing rehabilitation. The after affects of stroke take a variety of forms including:

  • Balance problems after stroke
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Cognitive problems after stroke
  • Communication problems after stroke
  • Epilepsy after stroke
  • Hemiplegia and stroke
  • Dementia after stroke
  • Pain after stroke
  • Physical effects of stroke
  • Psychological effects of stroke
  • Stroke and continence
  • Swallowing problems after stroke
  • Taste changes after stroke
  • Tiredness after stroke
  • Visual problems after stroke

Visit our online Health Information Library for further information pertaining to these topics.

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