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Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.

Up to 80% of strokes are preventable; you can prevent a stroke!

May is Stroke Awareness month, so this week I will be blogging about strokes: what is it, what the signs and symptoms of a stroke, what to do if you think you are having a stroke, and how to prevent strokes.

So, What Is A Stroke?

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is damaged.

For example, someone who has a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be paralyzed on one side or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

You may have heard of mini-strokes or transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an event with stroke symptoms that last less than 24 hours before disappearing. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent brain damage, they are a serious warning sign of stroke and should not be ignored!

Up to 40 percent of all people who have experienced a TIA will go on to have an actual stroke. Most studies show that nearly half of all strokes occur within the first two days after a TIA. In fact:

Within two days after a TIA, 5 percent of people will have a stroke.

Within three months after a TIA, 10 to 15 percent of people will have a stroke.

Click Here to find out your risk of having a TIA.

So, what are symptoms of a stroke? How can you prevent a stroke? What should you do if you think you are having a stroke? I will answer all of these questions this week. Happy Stroke Awareness Month!