What is a Stroke?
Stroke affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Sadly, it is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of long-term disability.
It is a serious disease that impacts the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Strokes cause brain tissue to die, which can lead to brain damage, long-term health complications and, in the worst of cases, death.
There are two different types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke: occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked
- Hemorrhagic stroke: occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts
Some people may experience a Transient Ischemic Attack (commonly referred to as a mini-stroke). This is a temporary blockage of blood flowing to the brain. The symptoms can be the same as a stroke, yet usually only last less than 24 hours. This is a serious condition and can be a warning sign that a full-blown stroke is to come.
By understanding the signs of stroke, you can increase your chances of recovering from the disease. And by making healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of stroke.
What are the signs of a stroke?
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke because the sooner someone seeks treatment, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. To quickly recognize the signs of a stroke our team remembers to act FAST.
Face. Is one side drooping? Ask the person to smile.
Arms. Is there weakness in their arms? Ask the person to raise both arms for 10 seconds and see if you notice one arm drifting downward.
Speech. Are they having trouble speaking? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and listen for slurring.
Time. If you observe even just one of these signs, call 911 immediately!
Other more subtle signs of a stroke can include a sudden headache, unexplained loss of balance, sudden changes in vision and sudden confusion.
For the best possible outcomes, call 911 and seek medical attention as soon as you recognize any of these symptoms. You can help medical workers by noting what time the symptoms first appeared.
Are you at Risk for Stroke?
It is important to recognize stroke can strike anyone at any time. Fortunately, there are steps all of us can take to reduce our risk:
- Make healthy food choices and limit sodium in your diet.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar & cholesterol levels within the normal range.
- Do not smoke. If you do, quit.
- Limit alcohol use.
- If you have heart disease or diabetes, work with a doctor to treat it.
There are risk factors that cannot be changed. As we get older, the chances of stroke increase. Women are more likely than men to have a stroke. Once you’ve experienced a stroke, you are at greater risk of having another. Additionally, our ethnic backgrounds can play a role in our chance of stroke.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is your strongest prevention against stroke.