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Stroke Prevention

Working together to prevent strokes

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, causing damage to nearly two million brain cells every minute. "Time is brain" during a stroke, so a patient needs to get help as quickly as possible from medical professionals highly trained in diagnosis and treatment.

There are three types of strokes:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in or near the brain. These strokes are sometimes caused by ruptured aneurysms or abnormal clusters of blood vessels called arteriovenous malformation (AVM). 
  • Ischemic stroke occurs when blood vessels to the brain become narrowed or blocked.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke that causes a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. Because the symptoms are temporary, they are often ignored, but are just as serious as a stroke and usually occur hours or days before a stroke.

Each type of stroke can have different warning signs and symptoms, occur in different areas of the brain, and can result in differing outcomes.

Am I at Risk for a Stroke?

Stroke Symptoms

infographic showing how to check for a stroke

Stroke Risk Factors

Strokes can happen to anyone, at any age. But your chance of having a stroke increases if you have certain risk factors, some of which can be changed or managed.

Controllable risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection, or irregular heart rhythm (such as atrial fibrillation)
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Medications, especially hormone therapies and birth control pills
  • Illegal drug use
  • Sleep apnea

Uncontrollable risk factors for stroke include:

  • Age: People of all ages, including children, have strokes. However, the risk of stroke increases for people 55 and over.
  • Gender: Men have a higher risk of stroke than woman.
  • Race: The risk of stroke varies with race and ethnicity. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have strokes than Caucasians. The risk of stroke is also high among Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.
  • Family history: Your stroke risk is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister, or brother has had a stroke.
  • Prior stroke or heart attack: A person who has already had a stroke or heart attack is at a much higher risk of having a second stroke.

Need a Doctor?

Regular check-ups are an important factor in detecting problems before they become serious. Your doctor can evaluate your risk for stroke and help you control your risk factors. If you don't have a doctor, browse our list of Primary Care physicians that are currently accepting new patients.
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Stroke Prevention

How to Prevent a Stroke

Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented through risk factor management. There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk for stroke: 

  • Eat a healthy diet low in sodium with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Prevent or manage your other health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, circulatory problems, and obesity
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Ready to Stop Smoking?

Facilitated by our Pulmonary physicians and Respiratory Therapists, the American Lung Association's Freedom from Smoking® program was created to provide you with the information, support, and medication recommendations necessary to help you quit once and for all. 

Learn More about the Program

Are You at Risk for a Stroke?

The best way to stop a stroke is before it starts. Be proactive and take our 10-question Stroke Quiz to help determine if you may be at risk for a stroke.