As we witness an aging of the US population we may well see an increase in the rate at which people are admitted to hospital and to nursing homes for stroke. Stroke (or a "brain attack") has some similarities to heart attacks. Both are treated as emergencies and both are prevented in similar ways.

Both are emergencies and require urgent measures by the person struck by them. A quick decision to go to the emergency room is essential when weakness of an arm or leg or combination of them or slurred speech or difficulty finding words occurs suddenly. Both can be treated with clot busting drugs if started early enough and in the right patient. Getting to treatment within an hour is ideal. The best way to do this is to phone 911 when either a heart attack or stoke (brain attack) are suspected.

Both are prevented by recognition and treatment of high blood pressure cholesterol, diabetes. Have yourself checked for these silent "killers". Smoking is one of the worst habits a person can have when it comes to preventing heart and brain attacks.

Recuperating after both involves changing unhealthy habits and increasing exercise, healthy foods, (often under the guidance of a health care practitioner, physical and possibly occupational therapist).

After a stoke a person has a higher risk of having another. Therefore, correcting unhealthy factors is essential. The risk of dying in the coming year is also higher (one person out of five who has had a stroke will die in the year following it). Often the death is due to another stroke, heart attack or other heart related cause. If a person's stoke was due to hardening of the arteries to the brain than their other arteries may be diseased also. This includes their heart arteries. Disease in these heart arteries can result in heart attacks and other problems. Therefore, checking out these arteries to correct any serious problems should be considered in a person who has had a stroke.

Stokes occur most often in those of us over 60. They occur in that age group at a rate of about 16 per 1,000 persons. Stoke is the third leading cause of death in the US for men and women (higher than for breast cancer) and a major cause of disability. It deserves to be prevented. Have your blood pressure checked. Keep your blood pressure low. Make sure your cholesterol is under control. Keep your sugar in an ideal range. Exercise four times or more a week for 30 minutes or more. Do not smoke or use tobacco.