Right now a dear friend and her family are heartbroken over her daughter’s sudden and untimely death due to a stroke. This beautiful, young woman, in the prime of her life, was stricken last week by bleeding in her brain, a ruptured aneurysm. The extensive damage to her brain could not be aided by surgery. For the longest days imaginable, the machines did their jobs to support her life, while we waited. It was agony!

There are 3 types of stroke:

Ischemic–lack of oxygen to the brain caused by interruption of blood flow, usually a clot.

Hemorrhagic–release of blood into the brain, either from a slow leak in a blood vessel or a sudden rupture of a blood vessel, an aneurysm.

Mini-stroke–usually called a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack, in which blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted briefly.

The greatest stroke risk, according to the CDC, is age, so many of us will get there. Other risks are related to lifestyle, such as smoking, lack of exercise, and being overweight. Diabetes is a risk factor, and type 2 diabetes is often related to life-style choices. High blood pressure and high bad cholesterol (LDL) also increase the risk for stroke.

Our acceptance of risk factors as part of our lives typically creeps in slowly over time. That single day of relaxing on the couch watching TV won’t kill you tomorrow. Neither will that single cigarette. Neither will that stress-filled job that raises your blood pressure. Our bodies are amazingly, beautifully resilient!

Yet the risks add up. Eventually, for some of us, we and our families pay the price of stroke—prolonged recoveries, expensive care centers, and most painful of all, regret for the loss of the good times together we might have spent together.

The CDC pages on Stroke and Stroke prevention are quite readable. For additional information on stroke and how to prevent it, go to www.cdc.gov/stroke .

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