The CDC issued a bulletin last week announcing that today, Oct. 29, is World Stroke Day. I’m not big on blogging about “days” and “months” dedicated to one disease or another. But as I read the information the CDC provided, I realized I don’t know much about stroke – despite my having a good friend who suffered a stroke decades ago and has been partially paralyzed ever since.

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel leading to the brain is blocked (ischemic stroke) or bursts inside the brain (hemorrhagic stroke), depriving part of the brain of oxygen-rich blood. Severity of damage depends on what part of the brain is affected and how long the stroke goes untreated, among other factors.

The latest data show that 795,000 strokes occur annually in the U.S. While older adults are at increased risk, children suffer strokes, too; the World Stroke Association (WSA) estimates that 6 in 100,000 children are affected.

Here, from the CDC bulletin, are the major health conditions that increase risk of stroke:

●high blood pressure


●high cholesterol

●atrial fibrillation

●history of transient ischemic attack (“mini stroke”) or previous stroke

Here are things you can do to reduce your odds of having a stroke:

●engage in regular physical activity

●follow a healthful diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables

●keep alcohol consumption in check

●quit smoking

Here are the signs that a person has suffered a stroke:

●sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body

●sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

●sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

●sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

●sudden severe headache

And here is what to do if you think someone’s having a stroke:

●drop what you’re doing and call 911; stroke is a medical emergency

Read more about World Stroke Day, sponsored by the WSA, here.