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Risk factors and warning signs of stroke

When dealing with strokes, neurologists at the Cleveland Clinic especially stress the link between high blood pressure and stroke. They say everyone should know their blood pressure because it's the single most modifiable factor to lower your risk for stroke.

Dr. Shazam Hussein with the Cleveland Clinic says, "High blood pressure influences things in many ways one of the biggest is it actually causes damage to the blood vessels particularly causing build-up of cholesterol in the walls causing blockages which eventually cause strokes."

It's an issue that affects a lot of people-stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death, and every year nearly 800,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke.

"It is the fourth leading cause of death in the country and more importantly it's the leading cause of disability in the United States," Hussein said.

Some of the risk factors include:

- High blood pressure: Strokes are four to six times more likely in people with high blood pressure.

- High cholesterol: People with high cholesterol are at double the risk of having a stroke.

- Smoking: Smokers have double the risk for stroke as nonsmokers

- Heavy drinking

- Excess weight

Some of the warning signs include:

- Sudden loss of speech

- Slurred speech

- Blurry or double vision

- Sudden paralysis

- Sudden weakness

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