Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, and a major cause of disability. With the aging of the American population and as obesity increases, more strokes are occurring: 795,000 a year, with 77% of them first-time; yet, deaths from strokes have decreased by 30%.
Experts speculate the reductions in stroke mortality are due in large part to improved prevention. As such, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have issued new guidelines aimed at reducing the incidence of stroke. Identifying lifestyle as having has the biggest impact on preventing stroke, the new guidelines urge not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.
By adopting these measures, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association estimates that an individual's risk for first-time stroke can be cut by 80%. The expert panel concludes that: "Extensive evidence identifies a variety of specific factors that increase the risk of a first stroke and that provide strategies for reducing that risk."