Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2023;108(1):online

Related article: Ischemic Stroke Management: Posthospitalization and Transition of Care

What is a stroke?

An injury to an area of the brain, usually caused by blood flow not getting to parts of the brain. Strokes cause loss of function of the affected part of the brain. This can make it hard 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?

Anyone can have a stroke. They are more common in people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. People who smoke, engage in heavy alcohol use (more than four drinks per day for men or more than three drinks per day for women), are obese, or have had a stroke before are also more likely to have a stroke.

How can I tell if I have had a stroke?

A change in your speech, tingling in your skin, and weakness of your muscles are the most common signs. These often occur suddenly.

If I've had a stroke, how can I prevent another one?

  • Talk to your doctor about taking medicines that lower the chance of having strokes (for example, aspirin or anticoagulants, depending on the cause of the stroke).

  • Start exercising for at least 10 minutes at least four times a week. Try to do more activity from there, aiming for 150 minutes of exercise per week.

  • Stop smoking.

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

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

Where can I get more information?

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