As a nation, one of our final memories of 2016 was Debbie Reynolds – a Hollywood starlet from the 1950s – dying of a stroke just one day after the untimely passing of her daughter, the beloved Carrie Fisher of “Star Wars” fame.

While the heartbreaking circumstances that led to Ms. Reynolds’ stroke are certainly unique, keep in mind that, on any given day, more than 2,000 Americans suffer a similar medical condition. 

Stroke (sometimes referred to as a “brain attack”) is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. It’s also the third-leading cause of death, killing some 140,000 people each year.

Although these numbers can seem daunting, there are several steps you can take to recognize warning signs and lower your own risk of stroke. Here are some tips you can utilize in your daily lifestyle that will help you prevent stroke:

Monitor Your Health: High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol can increase the chances you’ll experience a stroke. Exercise regularly, eat a heart-healthy diet, cut out nicotine and reduce your alcohol and sugar intake.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep: A recent study found that working adults who routinely sleep less than six hours a night are four times more likely to suffer a stroke when compared to peers who get seven to eight hours of rest. Prolonged lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your cardiovascular system, so get the shut-eye your body craves.

Be FAST: When assessing whether you or someone you know is having a stroke, remember the “FAST” acronym: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, Time to call 911. Sudden confusion, severe headaches without cause and blurred vision are also potential indicators. Keep an eye on the clock, too, because paramedics and hospital staff will need to know the precise time the symptoms started.

When it comes to stroke, the best line of defense is to know the facts, maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek immediate medical attention if problems arise.

Dr. NL Prasad Nidadavolu is a Licensed Neurologist who is credentialed at Poinciana Medical Center. He provides services in general neurology, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, dementias, encephalopathies, Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.  For more information about Dr. Nidadavolu, search keyword “Nidadavolu” on’s “Find a Doctor” page, or call (888) 253.8117.

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