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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

What You Should Know About Stroke Prevention

Research Findings For Consumers

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, either by narrowed blood vessels or blood clots or when there is bleeding in the brain. Deprived of nutrients, brain nerve cells begin to die within a few minutes. As a result, stroke can cause vision and sensory loss, problems with walking and talking, or difficulty in thinking clearly. Warning signs include sudden unexplained numbness or tingling (especially on one side), slurred speech, blurred vision, stumbling, or clumsiness. If you or someone you know has one or more of these symptoms, it is important to get treatment immediately. Call 911.

Studies, including those supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, show that some people are more at risk for stroke than others. Chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can increase your risk, as well as lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes, being overweight, or drinking excessively. Men, African Americans, and people with a family history of stroke have a higher risk as well. If you have already had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (referred to as a TIA or "mini-stroke"), you are at highest risk. Prevention is the best medicine.

For updated information about stroke prevention:

Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms from the Brain Attack Coalition and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health at:

AHRQ Publication No. 08-0025-EF
Current as of February 2008

Internet Citation:

What You Should Know About Stroke Prevention. AHRQ Publication No. 08-0025-EF, February 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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