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Dr Oz: Strokes among women increased 40%, walking prevents stroke by 30%

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Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed the alarming new health epidemic of strokes among young women on the Sept. 4 episode of the Dr. Oz Show. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and are on the rise among women at younger and younger ages.

Historically, strokes were considered an age-related condition, with the average stroke victim being 68 years old. But Dr. Oz said an alarming new report indicates the incidence of strokes among women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s has increased by 40 percent in recent years.

A stroke happens when a blood clot travels to, or forms in a part of, the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. A stroke deprives your brain of oxygen, which often leads to brain damage. This is why getting immediate medical attention during the first sign of a stroke is critical.

Symptoms of stroke include numbness on one side of the body, slurred speech or trouble speaking, nausea, vomiting, sudden, painful headaches, blurred vision and dizziness. The risk factors include smoking, being 10 or more pounds overweight, having high blood pressure, using birth control pills and having diabetes.

Neurologist Dr. Carolyn Brockington, who was a guest on the Dr. Oz Show, said if you suddenly start slurring your words or feel your face drooping, it may mean you're having a stroke, and you should seek medical attention immediately. The faster you get help, the less brain damage you will suffer.

Dr. Oz said you can prevent a stroke by keeping tabs on your blood pressure to make sure it doesn't get too high. An ideal blood pressure is 120/80. Other stroke prevention tips including not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. Finally, walking at least 20 minutes a day can dramatically reduce your stroke risk. Doing this one activity alone can slash your risk by 30 percent.

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