On a more positive note, up to 80% of strokes may be preventable, says the American Stroke Association, by controlling high blood pressure, increasing physical activity, stopping smoking, losing weight, eating healthier and adopting other measures. (Click here for more details on stroke prevention.)
For those who suffer a stroke, prompt treatment can significantly improve the survival rate and preserve quality of life. The Stroke Association urges people to call 911 if they observe someone experiencing the three primary symptoms of stroke: face drooping, arm weakness and difficulty with speech.
Research conducted in Taiwan points to another possible early indicator of stroke — sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). Published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, the 2008 study suggests that a sudden loss of hearing might foreshadow a cerebrovascular event (stroke) as much as two years before it happens.
The researchers caution against making a clear-cut connection between SSHL and stroke. However, individuals who experience a sudden loss of hearing should seek immediate medical attention. There are a number of other potential underlying causes of SSHL, including infectious diseases, head injuries, autoimmune diseases, ototoxic drugs and disorders of the inner ear.