Stroke’s No Joke

A healthy diet can reduce your risk for a stroke.


American Stroke Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Stroke Association

As a trucker, you’re inclined to a lifestyle that increases your risk of having a stroke. Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and high stress can contribute to high blood pressure, and therefore the chance of a stroke.

At least 600,000 people a year suffer a stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States. Even if you survive, a stroke can threaten your livelihood: More than half of survivors are left mentally or physically impaired, although sometimes cell damage can be repaired and some lost skills regained.

A stroke happens when blood circulation to the brain fails, which can kill brain cells within a few minutes. Most strokes are caused by a blood clot or narrowing of a blood vessel (artery) leading to the brain. Other strokes are caused by bleeding from an artery.


A stroke is a single attack, but the conditions or risk factors that lead to a stroke develop over years. The chance of having a stroke more than doubles for each decade after age 55, and that chance increases if your family has a history of strokes. If you have had a stroke, your chance of having another dramatically increases.

African-Americans have a much higher risk of disability and death from a stroke, in part because there is a greater incidence of high blood pressure, a major stroke risk factor.

People with heart problems have more than twice the risk of stroke as those whose hearts work normally. High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke; diabetes, which is strongly correlated with high blood pressure, is also a risk factor. Smoking cigarettes also increases your risk for a stroke.


Reducing your risk for a stroke entails a lot of the same practices that lead to a healthier life in general:

  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Stop smoking. Stroke risk drops after you stop smoking for two to five years.
  • Exercise regularly. This can make your heart stronger, improve circulation and reduce weight.
  • Control weight. Being overweight increases the chance of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose foods low in fat, salt and cholesterol. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

    Treatment during the first few hours after stroke symptoms appear can be important for the best recovery possible. If any of the following symptoms appear suddenly, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Vision trouble in one or both eyes.
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.
  • If symptoms appear briefly and disappear, it might be a transient ischemic attack, which indicates serious underlying stroke risks. It’s a warning that a full stroke may soon follow.

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