A stroke is an interruption of the blood flow to the brain. It can occur when an artery serving the brain ruptures, or is plugged by a blood clot. This interferes with blood flow to brain cells, causing the affected area of the brain to die. Depending on the severity and location of the stroke, it may result in partial or complete paralysis, loss of some bodily function, or death. A stroke is sometimes preceded by weakness or numbness of the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body, temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes, or difficulty speaking. These symptoms may be temporary, lasting only minutes or hours. If you notice any of these signs, you may be having a 'mini stroke.' If this is left untreated, it can lead to a major stroke. Other signs of stroke may include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, forgetfulness, or a change in personality. The risk of stroke increases with age, or if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or if you have a family history of stroke. To help prevent a stroke, keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in the normal range, remember to take any blood medications your doctor has prescribed, eat a well-balanced diet, and avoid fatty foods. It's also a good idea to get plenty of exercise, watch your weight, and avoid smoking. Be sure to see a doctor immediately if you experience any warning signs. Early treatment may prevent a fatal or disabling stroke from occurring. For more information, talk with a health care provider.
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