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Are you at risk for a brain attack?

We all know about heart attacks-but have you ever heard of a brain attack?  You may be more familiar with its other name:  stroke.  Stroke is the second most common cause of death in American men and women, and is also a major cause of disability in its 4.4 million survivors.  This year, brain attacks will be responsible for more than 160,000 deaths, and more will be women than men.

The good news about stroke is that many of its known risk factors are changeable.  Interestingly, most of the risk factors for stroke are the same as those for heart attacks:  smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity.  Thousands of strokes per year could be prevented with dietary changes alone:   changes that lower cholesterol, decrease obesity, lower high blood pressure, and correct diabetes will all lower stroke risk.

Recently, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (9/27/00) was the first to show that increasing intake of whole grain foods also lowers the  risk of ischemic stroke in women, independent of other known risk factors.

As with risk reduction for heart attack, when smokers stop smoking, they reduce their risk of stroke significantly. 

Lifestyle changes and medical intervention are equally important in reducing your risk of stroke.  If you have any of these risk factors, talk with your doctor about steps you can take to protect your brain.

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Created: 2/5/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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