A stroke is a very serious illness that can lead to death. A stroke or brain attack occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery, or when a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When a brain attack occurs, it kills brain cells in the immediate area. Doctors call this area of dead cells an infarct. These cells usually die within minutes to a few hours after the stroke starts. By living a healthy lifestyle, however, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting a stroke.
It is very important to know your blood pressure. It should be checked at least annually. If it is elevated, it is important to work with your doctor to keep it under control. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. You can check your blood pressure at your doctor's office, at health fairs, at home with an automatic blood pressure machine, or at your local pharmacy or super market.
If the higher number (your systolic blood pressure) is consistently above 135 or if the lower number (your diastolic blood pressure) is consistently over 85, you are at risk. If you have high blood pressure, some combination of changes in your diet, regular exercise, and medication is necessary. Medication for blood pressure has been improved. It will almost never cause side effects or interfere with your quality of life.
Too much drinking is also risky for strokes. If you drink, you should limit yourself to no more than two drinks a day. More than two alcoholic beverages each day can increase your risk for stroke by as much as three times and also can lead to liver disease, accidents and more.
Knowing your cholesterol number is also important. If your cholesterol is high,