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Stroke kills almost 130,000 of the 800,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year—that is 1 in every 19 deaths from all causes. A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. You can greatly reduce your risk for stroke through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Anyone, including children, can have a stroke. Every year, about 610,000 people in the United States have a new stroke. Several causes that are out of your control can increase your risk of having a stroke.


These include your age, sex, and ethnicity. But there are many unhealthy habits that you can change. Examples include smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, and not getting enough exercise. Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes also can increase your risk for stroke. However, treating these conditions can reduce the risk of stroke. Ask your doctor about preventing these medical conditions.

Common signs and symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg.

  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking.

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