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Man swimmingStroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability. While most strokes occur in people aged 65 years and older, strokes can occur at any age. Learn the signs and symptoms and how you can lower your risk for stroke.

Stroke strikes fast. You should too. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

New treatments are available that can reduce the damage caused by a stroke for some victims. But these treatments need to be given soon after the symptoms start.

Knowing the symptoms of stroke, calling 9-1-1 right away, and getting to a hospital are crucial to the most beneficial outcomes after having a stroke. The best treatment is to try to prevent a stroke by taking steps to lower your risk for stroke.

Know Your Signs and Symptoms

stroke prevention and awareness videoWatch the video: Stroke Prevention

A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident, occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off (an ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel leading to or within the brain bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke). Without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. Death or permanent disability can result.

With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It is very important to know the symptoms of a stroke and act right away.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes 5 major signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms, or legs.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

All of the major symptoms of stroke appear suddenly, and often there is more than one symptom at the same time.

If you think someone is having a stroke, you should call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services immediately. Receiving immediate treatment is critical in lowering the risk of disability and even death.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices Can Lower Your Risk

All people can take steps to lower their risk for stroke, whether they have had a stroke or not. Things you can do to lower the risk of stroke include steps to prevent and control high blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic conditions, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and not smoking.

  • Prevent and control high blood pressure. See CDC's high blood pressure fact sheet.
  • Prevent and control diabetes.
  • Stop smoking. 
  • Treat atrial fibrillation.
  • Prevent and control high blood cholesterol. See CDC's cholesterol fact sheet.
  • Use alcohol moderately. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. 
  • Know your family history.

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