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  • Writer's pictureDr. Raisa Lerner



Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. A stroke is a medical emergency because brain cells begin to die within minutes. Therefore, prompt treatment is critical.

Strokes can be treated and prevented, and fewer Americans die of stroke now than in the past.

Risk factors

Lifestyle risk factors

  1. Being overweight or obese

  2. Physical inactivity

  3. Heavy or binge drinking

  4. Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines

Medical risk factors

  1. High blood pressure

  2. Smoking

  3. High cholesterol

  4. Diabetes

  5. Obstructive sleep apnea

  6. Cardiovascular disease

  7. Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Other factors associated with a higher risk of stroke include:

  1. Age (over 55)

  2. Race (African-Americans)

  3. Gender (men)

  4. Hormone treatment (birth control pills or estrogen replacement)


These are the signs and symptoms to look for if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke:

  1. Trouble speaking and understanding

  2. Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg

  3. Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  4. Severe headache

  5. Trouble walking

Make sure you pay attention to when the signs and symptoms begin because the duration of symptoms can affect your treatment options and outcomes.

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they seem to fluctuate or disappear. Think “FAST” and do the following:

  1. Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

  2. Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise up?

  3. Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?

  4. Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Part of our preventive, personalized care model at Spry includes assessing your personal risk factors for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

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