National Emergency Medicine Assoc. (NEMA)


Your 5-Minute Guide to Stroke (or Brain Attack) Prevention and Survival

What is a Stroke?

The Early Warning Signs of a Potential Stroke

A stroke is a "brain attack". Blood and oxygen are blocked off from reaching vital brain cells and the brain cells die. There are 3 types of stroke; a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by fatty deposits or blocked by a blood clot, or a blood vessel ruptures.

YOU CAN LOWER YOUR RISK FOR STROKE - Knowing the factors that put you at risk for a stroke is the beginning of working towards preventing a stroke. By making some important lifestyle changes today, you will increase your chances of preventing or surviving a stroke.

  1. A numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arms or legs, usually on one side of the body.
  2. Blurred vision or a loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  3. Difficulty speaking or understanding words.
  4. Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination.
  5. Difficulty swallowing.
  6. A sudden, severe headache.

    These symptoms often occur in combinations. Seek medical attention immediately.

Common Medical Terms You Need to Know to Understand Strokes

ANEURYSM - A weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel, present since birth. High blood pressure stretches the weak spot, thinning the wall and eventually bursting the vessel. This is what causes a hemorrhagic stroke. EMBOLIC STROKE - The most common type of stroke. A blood clot travels to the brain from another part of the body. When the clot gets to the smaller blood vessels in the brain, it gets stuck and cuts off the blood supply.
HEMORRHAGIC STROKE - A rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, an aneurysm. The least common of the three types of stroke. NEUROLOGIST - A doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system. If you display any of the early symptoms of a stroke, you should make an appointment with a neurologist.
THROMBOTIC STROKE - A clot forms inside a blood vessel in the neck or brain. These clots are formed from the fatty deposits lining the blood vessels which narrows the vessels. This is the most common type of stroke. TIA - A transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke. This is a temporary interruption of the blood flow and is a serious early warning sign of a stroke. See a doctor immediately.

Are You at Risk? Take this simple test to see if you might be at risk for a stroke.



1. Have either of your parents, grandparents or any one of your siblings or cousins had a stroke?    
2. Are you 65 or older?    
3. Do you have diabetes?    
4. Do you have more than 6 alcoholic drinks a week?    
5. Do you have high blood pressure?    
6. Do you smoke?    
7. Do you have high cholesterol?    
8. Do you exercise less than 3 times a week?    
9. Are you more than 20% over your ideal weight?    
10. Have you experienced dizziness or blurred vision?    
If you answered yes to more than one question, than your risk for a stroke is increased. But there are many preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk. total ____________ total ____________

Your Stroke (or Brain Attack) Prevention Course

It's never too late to start preventing a stroke (or brain attack). The best approach is to make a few positive lifestyle changes.
EAT HEALTHY - A diet low in fatty foods and high in fiber can help you to lost weight and lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the most important known risk factor for stroke.

Here's a few changes you can make in your diet today to start you on the path to healthy eating habits:

1. Eat fish and poultry instead of red meat.
2. Drink skim or 1% fat milk.
START EXERCISING - A sedentary lifestyle greatly increases your risk for a stroke. The easiest exercise to begin is walking. A brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes, four times a week, will reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and strengthen your heart and lungs, thereby reducing your risk of stroke.

Choose activities you like to do, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing. To be fit, it's important to be consistent. Set a schedule. Walk every morning for example. Begin exercising for 20 minutes at a time, then gradually increase the time up to 60 minutes.

3.Use olive oil for cooking.
4. Avoid fried foods.
5. Trim fat off meat and poultry before cooking.
6. Broil, bake, roast, steam, sauté, stir-fry or microwave your food.
STOP SMOKING - If you smoke cigarettes, you have a 3 times greater risk of a stroke. If you smoke and have high blood pressure, your risk for a stroke increases 20 times. The risk declines for those who quit smoking. If you have difficulty quitting on your own, join a stop smoking group, use a patch, consult with your doctor on the best way to do this, but do it.
7. Avoid gravy and thick sauces.
8. Eat only 304 eggs a week.
9. Reduce salt intake to 2400 milligrams a day.
10. Switch from white bread and white rice to whole-grain bread and brown rice.
REDUCE YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE - If you drink alcoholic beverages, only 6 to 8 drinks a week, your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke is twice that of a non-drinker. If you are a heavy drinker (more than 8 drinks a week), your risk is three times greater.
11. Eat fiber-rich cereal for breakfast.
12. Eat the skin of your apple.
13. Increase fruit and vegetable servings to 5 a day.
14. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

What is Normal?

There are 3 factors that if within normal range greatly reduce your risk for a stroke. Check your numbers to see if they are normal. If not, work with your doctor to lower them.

Normal -------- Mine

Blood Pressure
              -------Under 140/90 ---____

          -----------Under 200-------____

----Within 20% of your ideal weight                         --------------------____

GET ANNUAL CHECKUPS - have a yearly routine physical exam. Discuss fully and honestly with your doctor all of your possible risk factors. Your doctor should check your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. have an ECG and an EEG test to detect any abnormalities of the heart and any coronary artery disease.

Do not ignore any TIA symptoms you may have had. More detailed tests may be needed, such as an ultrasound test of the main arteries in your neck to detect obstructions. You may also have a CT scan or MRI to identify any areas of damages blood vessels in the brain. Follow your Doctor's recommendations to reduce your chances of stroke.

Immediate Steps To Take Today

1. Share this 5-minute guide with your loved ones.
2.Make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of stroke.
3. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.
4. Beware of the warning signs of stroke and see a physician if you experience symptoms.
5. Begin your stroke prevention course today!


The higher the cholesterol level in our blood, the greater the risk of blood vessel blockage (vascular disease). A stroke, heart attack or blocked vessels in the legs are the most common examples of vascular disease.

The liver makes cholesterol from fat - primarily saturated fat. The fat is found in animal products. Almost no fat is found in plant products such as fruits, vegetables and grains. The fat in coconut, palm and palm kernel are the major sources of saturated fat in plants.

People should pay close attention to how much saturated fat they eat. If, in spite of eating a low fat diet, you cannot lower your high cholesterol level, you may need t take medication prescribed by a doctor.

The 6 Steps You Can Take When Someone is Having a Stroke . . .

1. Stay Calm

4. Check for consciousness. If conscious, ask about stroke medications the person might be taking. Is he carrying any medications that might help the current situation? Ask for his' doctor's name and phone number. Call the doctor and alert him to the situation. Inform the doctor the medical emergency help is on the way. If you are on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, request that the dispatcher call the doctor.
2. Call 9-1-1. Tell the dispatcher what's happening and report your exact location. Request an ambulance. Stay on the phone, if possible, and with the stroke victim. If you don't have 911 in your area, call the operator or the police and request emergency medical help. 5. Cover the person with a blanket. Don't let the person get too hot or too cold.
3. Lay the person on his side to prevent choking. 6. Stay with the person until emergency medical help arrives.


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Copyright © 1997 National Emergency Medicine Assoc., Inc.
Last modified: December 29, 2021