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A stroke is a very serious illness that can lead to death A stroke or brain attack occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery or when a blood vessel breaks interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain When a brain attack occurs it kills brain cells in the immediate area Doctors call this area of dead cells an infarct These cells usually die within minutes to a few hours after the stroke starts By living a healthy lifestyle however you can greatly reduce your chances of getting a stroke It is very important to know your blood pressure It should be checked at least annually If it is elevated it is important to work with your doctor to keep it under control High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke You can check your blood pressure at your doctors office at health fairs at home with an automatic blood pressure machine or at your local pharmacy or super market If the higher number your systolic blood pressure is consistently above 135 or if the lower number your diastolic blood pressure is consistently over 85 you are at risk If you have high blood pressure some combination of changes in your diet regular exercise and medication is necessary Medication for blood pressure has been improved It will almost never cause side effects or interfere with your quality of life Too much drinking is also risky for strokes If you drink you should limit yourself to no more than two drinks a day More than two alcoholic beverages each day can increase your risk for stroke by as much as three times and also can lead to liver disease accidents and more Knowing your cholesterol number is also important If your cholesterol is high you may be at increased risk for stroke Lowering your cholesterol if elevated may reduce your risk for stroke High cholesterol can be controlled in many
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