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Preventing Stroke: What You Need to Know

How Can I Prevent a Stroke?

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke.  Once you have had a stroke, your risk increases 25 percent.

A risk factor is a condition or behavior that increases the chances of getting a disease. Certain risk factors greatly boost that risk of a stroke.  Some of these factors are controllable or treatable which means taking action will reduce your risk. Other factors are beyond your control. 


Risk Factors You Can’t Control


Risk Factors You Can Control


**Both alcohol and the use of illegal drugs  increase the risk of bleeding into the brain. **


Treatable Risk Factors

                Optimum cholesterol:

                Total cholesterol:  Less than 200 mg/dl

                 LDL-cholesterol “The bad one”: Less than 100 mg/dl

                 HDL-cholesterol “The good one”: More than 60 mg/dl

                 Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dl. 

                Normal blood sugar:

                Before eating: 70-100 mg/dl


**Don’t ignore warning signs of a previous stroke!

Sometimes temporary symptoms – such as sudden blindness in one eye, slurred speech, weakness, numbness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg – occur as a warning. These are called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). If you experience stroke symptoms for even a little while, you should still go to the emergency room right away, even if they are gone. Tests to find the cause of the mini-stroke are run.  Treating the cause will keep you from having a stroke that sticks.


If you've had a stroke before, follow your doctor's advice to avoid a second occurrence. ***


See a Doctor

See your health care provider to find out if you have any medical conditions that lead to a stroke. If you are diagnosed with one of these conditions, you should have these questions answered at your visit:

1. What are my risk factors?

2. How do I manage my risk factors?

3. What do I need to do to get it under control?

4. How do I follow my targets to make sure I stay under control?


If medication is recommended:

1. Take as directed.

2. If you experience side effects or cannot afford medication, talk with your medical team.

3. Plan ahead so you do not run out of medication.

4. Bring a list of your medications with you to each doctor visit to make sure they are still the best medications for you.


For more information:

Go to the Stroke health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Jun 26, 2014

School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University