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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Stroke Prevention
April 2000

Q. What can I do to prevent a stroke?

A. We often hope we can "prevent" a disease. Actually, this is a bit complex. Most things that we do as part of "preventive medicine" decrease the chances of a disease or decrease the chances of dying from a disease. For example, lowering blood pressure does not "prevent" strokes?some people with normal blood pressure will still have a stroke. However, lowering the blood pressure decreases the chance a person will have a stroke.

While nothing can be done to guarantee you won't have a stroke, several things can be done to decrease your chances of having a stroke.

The National Institute Neurological Disorders and Stroke has extensive information on the prevention, early detection, and treatment of stroke. Its web page at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/patients/Disorder/STROKE/strokepr.htm gives a lot of excellent information on stroke and its risk factors, including things you can do to decrease your chances of stroke.

The American Heart Association's web site emphasizes not only the prevention of stroke, but also the importance of preventing the severity of a stroke by early intervention (see http://www.strokeassociation.org/). This site emphasizes the warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

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