A stroke occurs when an artery in your brain is blocked or leaks. This causes the oxygen-deprived brain cells to begin dying within minutes. During a stroke, you feel sudden numbness and confusion or have trouble walking and seeing. If left untreated, a stroke can cause long-term disability.
In fact, strokes are the leading causeTrusted Source of long-term disabilities. People who receive treatment within 3 hours of having a stroke are less likely to have disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source reports that 93 percent of people knew sudden numbness on one side was a stroke symptom. But only 38 percent knew all the symptoms that would prompt them to seek emergency care.
Risk factors and prevention
Risk factors for stroke include:
- high blood pressure
- family history of stroke
- smoking, especially when combined with oral contraceptives
- being African-American
- being female
Some risk factors of strokes can be reduced with preventative care, medications, and lifestyle changes. In general, good health habits can lower your risk.
Stroke prevention methods may include controlling high blood pressure with medications or surgery. You should also maintain a healthy lifestyle, complete with regular exercise and a healthy diet that’s low in sodium. Avoid smoking, and drink only in moderation, as these activities increase your risk of stroke.