Preventing stroke is no 'stroke of luck!'

Even if you've been "lucky in love" or often win in Bingo games, your luck won't serve you well when it comes to preventing a stroke. It takes more than that.

Some strokes are caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Most strokes, however, are caused by a clot that lodges in an artery, blocking blood flow to brain tissues.

There are things you can do, but the Journal of the American Medical Association says it is clear that the message is not getting out to those most likely to be affected.

The big risk factors, some of which you could control, are: High blood pressure, diabetes, some forms of heart disease, smoking and age.

If you have high blood pressure, your most important step is to treat and control it. If you have heart problems, ask your doctor what steps you can take to prevent stroke. You can't do anything about your age, but smoking is a risk that can be eliminated.

It is immensely important to get treatment fast if you suspect you are having a stroke. These are the warning signs:

* Sudden, severe headache.

* Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or falls.

* Sudden dimness or loss of vision.

* Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

* Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.

Today doctors have clot-dissolving drugs that can improve chances of full recovery, but they must be given within three hours of a stroke's onset to be effective.

Control your blood pressure and don't smoke. Avoiding a stroke is not a matter of luck.

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