Stroke Awareness Month

June is Stroke Awareness Month in Canada. A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to any part of the brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage done.

There are different types of strokes:

Ischemic stroke. This type of stroke is caused by a blockage or clot in a blood vessel in the brain. The blockage or clot develops when plaque builds up on the inside walls of an artery.

Hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke is caused when an artery in the brain breaks open. The interrupted blood flow causes damage to the brain. High blood pressure is a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke – as arteries weakened over time due to the increased pressure on artery walls.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA). This type of stroke is caused by a small clot that briefly blocks an artery. This is sometimes referred to as a mini stroke or warning stroke. There is no lasting damage, however, TIAs are an important warning that a more serious stroke may occur soon.

A stroke can occur at any age and can cause dementia at any age. The best defense against stroke is prevention, which begins with knowing your risk. Most Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke – and the majority of premature stroke can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle.

Know your risk! The following are lifestyle-related factors that can significantly increase your risk of stroke.

  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • unhealthy weight
  • unhealthy diet
  • not enough exercise
  • smoking
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • recreational drug use
  • birth control and hormone replacement therapy
  • stress

To learn about how you can reduce your risk of stroke through healthy eating, see our blog “How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke”.

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