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Each year about 795,000 Americans have a stroke and every four minutes someone dies of stroke.  But strokes can be prevented if treated promptly.

Stroke is our nation’s number three killer and a leading cause of long-term disability.  A stroke is damage to the brain, caused by either a blood clot or bleeding in the brain, says Dr. Sajjad Mueed, assistant professor of neurology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He describes the symptoms of stroke:

“The symptoms depend on what part of the brain is involved, but one of the commonest symptoms would be a weakness on one or the other side of the body.  But people could also have language or speech trouble.  They could have balance problems. They may feel dizzy.  They may suddenly lose their vision.  They may not be able to understand other people as well.”

Stroke is more common in elderly people, but younger people also can have strokes.  People who have risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease are more likely to experience a stroke.  Individuals who are obese and who smoke cigarettes also are at higher risk for stroke.  Dr. Mueed explains the need for seeking treatment for stroke quickly.

“The most important thing as soon as the first signs and symptoms appear, is to seek medical help in the nearest emergency room.  It is because we have many things that can be done in the first few hours of a stroke when it happens.  The more time we have delayed our seeking the medical advice, the less our options for successful intervention in our treatment are.”

Individuals should also work with their physicians to manage risk factors to prevent a stroke... including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and making it a priority to stop smoking.

Ruth Slottag