A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause your brain cells to die. A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel. Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain. A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected.
It is critical to act immediately if you suspect a stroke. Call 911 right away. Don’t wait to see if symptoms go away. Every minute counts. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability. Emergency crews and staff have had success in treating strokes, but the essential element is immediate treatment.
Symptoms that you or another may have experienced a stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg.
- Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Healthy Diet. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you prevent stroke. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet can also lower your blood pressure. High cholesterol and high blood pressure increase your chances of having a stroke.
Healthy Weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for stroke.
Physical Activity. Physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as a brisk walk, each week. Children and teens should get one hour of physical activity every day.
No Smoking. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your chances of having a stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for stroke. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
Limited Alcohol. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.
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