Many people are unaware they are even at risk for stroke, and yet someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. This article is intended to shed some light on the subject.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked by a clot or tear in a blood vessel. A stroke can also be called a “brain attack”. There are two types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot, and a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when either a brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leaks. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain. The fatality rate is higher and prognosis poorer for those who experience hemorrhagic strokes.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) — sometimes known as a mini-stroke — is a temporary period of symptoms like those you’d have in a stroke. A temporary decrease in blood supply to part of your brain causes TIAs, which may last as little as five minutes.
Like an ischemic stroke, a TIA occurs when a clot or debris blocks blood flow to part of your nervous system — but there is no permanent tissue damage and no lasting symptoms.
TIAs puts you at greater risk of having a full-blown stroke, causing permanent damage later. If you’ve had a TIA, it means there’s likely a partially blocked or narrowed artery leading to your brain or a clot source in the heart.
It’s not possible to tell if you’re having a stroke or a TIA based only on your symptoms. Even when symptoms last for under an hour, there is still a risk of permanent tissue damage.
80% OF STROKES ARE PREVENTABLE?
TRUE OR FALSE
F.A.S.T. Act FAST… If You Recognize These Symptoms:
F: Facial Drooping
A: Asymmetry/Weakness of Arms or Legs
S: Slurred Speech
T: Time is of the Essence, call 911, if you notice any of these symptoms
Stroke Risk Factors
There are many risk factors for stroke, the front runner being uncontrolled high blood pressure. The best way to reduce your risk of stroke is to control the risk factors that you can control. Below are both medical and lifestyle risk factors.
Medical Risk Factors:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol Levels
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm or AFIB
- Previous Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack
- Over the Age of 65
- Family History of Stroke
Lifestyle Risk Factors:
- Lack of Exercise
- Poor Diet
- Consuming More Than 2 Alcoholic Drinks per Day
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”- truer words have never been said. Stroke can be complicated by paralysis, speech impairments and lifelong disabilities. Prevent and control your risk factors. Have an open and honest discussion with your family and physician about making powerful and positive medical and lifestyle changes.
Many stroke prevention strategies are the same as strategies to prevent heart disease. Exercising, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your sodium and alcohol intake.
Once you’ve had a stroke you may need additional rehabilitation to improve and recover muscle strength as well as speech abilities. Your physician may start you on medicine like aspirin, anticoagulants as well as cholesterol lowering medicines.
It is important to get to an emergency rooms within three hours of the onset of symptoms of a stroke. Note the time of the first symptom. This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.