Stroke: Focus on Prevention

It’s like having a heart attack in your head. But a stroke can be far more debilitating — or just as deadly. Before your life is tragically disrupted or even ended by a brain attack, you can learn to take action.

The first step is to become aware of the warning signs. The occasional quiver of butterflies across your chest may be a signal that you’re at risk of a stroke. This flutter could be atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart rhythm disturbance affecting more than 200,000 Canadians, and one of the leading causes of brain attacks.

Your chance of having a stroke increases if you have high blood pressure (hypertension), hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease or diabetes. A family history of heart problems, and a smoking habit are both significant factors.

The information you need to protect yourself from stroke is available at a two-hour meeting presented by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and a group of companies with a special interest in consumer health education. The free program includes a short video, information on preventing and treating strokes, details on lifestyle changes to reduce risk of stroke and a question and answer session.

If you someone you care for is at risk, simply register to attend the meeting nearest you. (Registration is necessary because space is limited; there are no accommodations for children.) Light refreshments follow the meeting.

The five main warning signs of stroke

  1. Sudden weakness, numbness and/or tingling of the face, arm or leg. These signals may only last for a brief time.

  2. Temporary loss of speech or trouble understanding speech.

  • Sudden loss of vision, particularly in one eye, or double vision.

  • Sudden, severe, and unusual headaches.

  • Unsteadiness or sudden falls, especially with any of the above signs.