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Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(3):389

See related article on stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when an area of the brain is damaged, this usually happens when blood does not reach certain parts of the brain. You can lose function in the parts of your body that are controlled by that part of the brain. For example, you may not be able to move an arm or a leg, or you may have trouble speaking. Each stroke you have can lead to more physical problems, and even death.

Who has strokes?

Strokes can happen in people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. People who smoke, drink more than one alcoholic drink a day, or are obese are more likely to have a stroke. If you have already had a stroke, you are at higher risk of having another one.

How can I tell if I have had a stroke?

A change in your speech, tingling in your skin, or weakness of your muscles may be signs of a stroke. These symptoms can happen quickly.

How can I prevent a stroke?

  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week if recommended by your doctor.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Don't drink more than one alcoholic drink a day.

  • Work with your doctor to control your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.

  • Some medicines can prevent another stroke. Ask your doctor if you should be taking these types of medicines.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Stroke Foundation

National Stroke Association

National Women's Health Information Center

American Stroke Association

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