Diabetes and Stroke

In this section, you will learn about stroke and how to help reduce your risk.

Diabetes increases your risk of stroke

If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease. In fact, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from stroke or heart disease.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is stopped and brain tissue is damaged. A stroke can cause problems such as these:

  • Part of the body cannot move (like an arm and a leg); this is called “paralysis”
  • Trouble thinking or speaking
  • Emotional problems

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

Typical warning signs of a stroke develop suddenly and can include

  • Weakness or numbness on 1 side of your body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Trouble talking
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking
  • Trouble seeing out of 1 or both eyes
  • Double vision
  • Severe headache

If you have warning signs of a stroke, call 911 right away. Getting treatment right away can help prevent permanent damage to your brain.

How do you know if you are at risk for a stroke?

Just having diabetes puts you at risk. Your risk is even greater if

  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have cholesterol levels that are not normal
  • You smoke
  • You have a history of stroke or mini-stroke (also called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA)
  • You have family members who have had a stroke or TIAs

Some of these risk factors can’t be changed. But taking care of your diabetes and some of the other risk factors can help lower your risk of having a stroke.

How can you help lower your risk of having a stroke?

You can help lower your risk by keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in control. You can do this with meal planning, physical activity, and, if needed, medicine. Quitting smoking is important, too. Every step helps. The closer your numbers are to your target goals, the better.

Ask your health care provider about ways you can help reduce your risk for stroke.

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