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Basic Facts about Stroke

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the normal blood flow to the brain, due to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel.

Without the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood, brain cells start to die. Stroke can cause disability and death.

Risk Factors for Stroke

There are certain behaviors and characteristics that increase your chance of having a stroke. We call these risk factors. There are some risk factors cannot be controlled such as having a family history of stroke, being a certain ethnicity (African Americans have a higher risk of stroke), being female (women have more strokes then men), being age 55 or older, and having had a stroke or heart attack in the past. However, there are also many risk factors that you can control. Here’s how you can reduce your risk of stroke:

  • High Blood Pressure/Hypertension – High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. If you have high blood pressure, speak to your health care provider to learn how to lower it.
  • Sodium – In many people sodium increases blood pressure. You can lower your blood pressure and your risk for stroke by reducing the amount of sodium you eat.
  • Smoking – Cigarette smoke can be an important risk factor for stroke. If you smoke, quit to reduce your risk for stroke.
  • Physical Activity & Nutrition – Moving more and eating a balanced diet can help you lower your risk for stroke.
  • And More – to learn more about risk factors for stroke visit the American Stroke Association.

Massachusetts Stroke Statistics

  • 3.5 percent of Massachusetts adults 35 and older have reported that they had a stroke
  • 2.8 percent of Massachusetts adult men 35+ reported being diagnosed with a stroke
  • 4.2 percent of Massachusetts adult women 35+ reported being diagnosed with a stroke


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