People have been suffering from strokes for many years, but statistics show an alarming increase in the 21st century. This is probably down to our lifestyles. Stress is undoubtedly one of the biggest risk factors. In the United States alone, stroke is the third leading cause of death, over 140,000 people die each year. According to the world Health Organisation, 15 million people suffer a strokes each year, and out of these 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled.

Strokes can occur in an instant without warning. However, in most cases there are warning signs, the two most common ones being:-

Sudden confusion, slurred speech, trouble speaking or understanding speech.

A sudden numbness in the arms, face or leg. Especially down one side.

A stroke occurs when there is a disruption to the blood supply reaching the brain, generally in the form of a blood clot causing a blockage. Although we can all become a victim, those at most risk are the elderly, people living an unhealthy lifestyle such as drink and drug abuse, obese people living a sedentary lifestyle and those who are genetically inclined. Despite the fact that many of us will recognise the obvious symptoms, due to media publicity there are more subtle signs. These can include temporary loss of vision when the blood clot passes through the retina. Sudden memory loss, pins and needles down one side of the body and loss of balance.

Though these lesser known symptoms are sometimes connected with other conditions such as low blood sugar, epileptic fits and migraine. They are also vital warning signs of a 'mini stroke. Mini strokes, also known as 'transient ischaemic attacks', happen when a blood clot temporarily blocks the blood flow to the brain. Mini strokes are in fact a warning that something is not right, that the brain is not getting enough blood. One in four people who suffer a mini stroke will go on to to have a full blown stroke, often within 24 hours. Where a mini stroke occurs, a blood clot passes through the brain temporarily. But with a full stroke the blockage is complete meaning brain cells start to die, Often with devastating results.

The problem with mini strokes, apart from the obvious fact that they can easily be mistaken for something else. Is that because they are temporary and are over in less than a minute, people don't take them seriously. Indeed, many people who suffer a mini stroke will put it down to a trapped nerve or a night out on the town. Its quite common for even health practitioners to miss the warning signs. A mini stroke won't leave you with any real damage but getting it properly diagnosed can prevent something very serious from happening. Just being aware of the symptoms and that mini strokes do happen could make a big difference. In the United Kingdom alone, over 10,000 lives a year could be saved.

Despite the fact that hereditary conditions may put you at risk, there are preventative measures that can help. Controlling and moderating your blood pressure is vital. If you suffer from high blood pressure purchasing a home blood pressure monitor would be a wise investment. You can lower your blood pressure with simple 30 minute exercises 5 days a week. Does your weekly food intake contain a large percentage of cholesterol. Cut down on saturated fats. Eat more fruit and veg. Its common sense really. Obesity is another contributing factor. Do you smoke ?  Smoking is a major risk factor in strokes. If you can cut down and give up smoking you can cut the risk of a stroke by 50%. Don't wait until its to late. Prevention is better than cure.