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A guide to stroke risk factors and treatment

The term stroke encompasses a wide diversity of vascular diseases of the central nervous system (cerebrovascular diseases). Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States and throughout the world. Annually, approximately 750,000 Americans have a stroke. Approximately 150,000 Americans die from stroke and a similar number die as an indirect consequence of stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, and many persons fear stroke not because it might lead to death but that independence will be lost. Stroke is second to dementia as a reason for long-term institutionalized care, and the effects of stroke can potentiate the effects of other diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Stroke changes the life of the patient and his/her family and friends. The economic consequences of stroke are huge. Besides the expenses of acute care and prevention strategies, the financial costs of rehabilitation and long-term care are considerable. In addition, stroke often means that a person no longer can work or that family members will need to change employment in order to become a caregiver. As a result, the costs from stroke exceed $40 billion.