NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The National Stroke Association (NSA)
has released the first set of expert recommendations on what the
public can do to prevent stroke.
The Stroke Prevention Guidelines include warning signs of stroke
and advice on how people can avoid stroke, the third leading
cause of death in the US.
The guidelines are part of NSA's five-year public education
campaign, "Stroke in America," which will include seminars,
stroke screenings, and other community outreach programs designed
to raise awareness of stroke symptoms as well as of preventive
measures such as regular exercise and a low-sodium, low-fat
"Stroke is... killing about 160,000 Americans each year," Dr.
Ralph Sacco of the departments of neurology and public health at
Columbia University in New York told reporters at a telephone
press conference on Thursday. "About 700,000 people will have a
new or recurrent stroke each year," he added, "and stroke
incidence seems to be on the rise."
To reduce risk of stroke, the NSA offers these basic
-- have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked
-- if you are diabetic, follow your doctor's plan for controlling
-- if you smoke, quit;
-- if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation;
-- exercise regularly;
-- eat a diet low in sodium and low in fat;
-- report to your doctor symptoms such as occasional ringing in
the ears, brief bouts of dizziness or vertigo, or sluggishness in
the legs which may indicate potentially stroke-inducing
circulation problems, and,
-- seek medical help immediately if you have any stroke
symptoms, such as sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the
body, sudden blurry vision, intense headache and dizziness.
"It is important to treat stroke like a medical emergency," Sacco
stressed. "All... therapies are only effective if the patient is
treated within three hours of onset."
The elderly, especially older women, and African-Americans are
particularly at risk for death or disability from stroke,
according to the NSA. But education about stroke prevention,
Sacco emphasized, must extend beyond those at high risk or with
established symptoms to everyone, starting in the early school
"It's not just screening, but changing lifestyle that is
important," he said. "Healthier living for everyone now can
reduce the large numbers of strokes that are occurring in this
For more information about the Stroke Prevention Guidelines and
the Stroke in America campaign, contact the NSA at 1-800-787-