stroke commonly referred to as a "brain attack," is a medical condition where blood flow is cut off to parts of the brain, resulting in the death of brain cells due to a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. This can cause temporary or permanent disability, and it can even be fatal.
Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in America today and they are the leading cause of disability in adults. The good news is that strokes can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, and if a person experiences symptoms of a stroke, medical attention must be sought right away to minimize long-term disability or death caused by a stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke
The most important thing to remember is that a stroke is a medical emergency and stroke victims should seek medical attention right away. The acronym “FAST”—Face, Arm, Speech, Time—can be used to quickly assess and recognize a potential stroke.
Face: A person experiencing a stroke may show signs of weakness on one side of the face, causing their mouth or eye to droop when smiling.
Arm: A person experiencing a stroke may be unable to lift both arms at the same level due to weakness or numbness in one arm.
Speech: A person experiencing a stroke may be unable to say even common words like “yes” and “no” or may slur their speech.
Time: A person experiencing a stroke may be experiencing a decrease in mental alertness as well.
In addition to the FAST test, here are some other signs and symptoms of a stroke you should be on the lookout for:
• Loss of balance
• Vision problems in one or both eyes
• Difficulties with speech, understanding, and comprehending verbal commands
• Headaches, dizziness, and disorientation
• Severe migraine that may persist
• Paralysis or blackness on one side of the face
• Weakness, numbness, and tingling on one side of the body
• Confusion and difficulty in concentrating
• Difficulty swallowing, moving arms or legs, and walking
Common Risk Factors
It’s important to understand that certain risk factors can contribute to a greater chance of stroke, such as:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Smoking cigarettes
• Lack of exercise
• Heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation
• Previous stroke
• Certain medications, such as birth control pills
• Brain aneurysms
• A family history of stroke
It’s important to note that even if you have one or more of the above risk factors, you can take steps to lower your risks significantly. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking are a few of the lifestyle changes you can make to significantly lower your chances of having a stroke.
Types of Strokes
There are two main types of strokes—ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes.
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, accounting for 87% of all strokes. It is caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain due to a blockage or narrowing of a blood vessel. It can be caused by a clot or a buildup of plaque inside the artery.
A hemorrhagic stroke is a less common type of stroke, accounting for 13% of all strokes. It typically occurs when a blood vessel ruptures (leaks) and causes blood to gather inside the brain. It can be caused by an aneurysm, weakened artery walls, or a brain tumor.
How to Prevent a Stroke
A stroke can be fatal and can cause permanent disability. It is important to identify the risk factors and take action to reduce those risks.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to lower your stroke risk. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, getting regular exercise (especially aerobic activities), maintaining healthy body weight, and avoiding smoking are all important steps to take for stroke prevention.
In addition, if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, it is important to work with your doctor to monitor your condition and work towards lowering your risk. Medications may also be prescribed to lower your risks, such as blood thinners or aspirin.
A stroke is a medical emergency that can cause permanent disability or even death. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke, as well as know the risk factors associated with stroke. Knowing how to prevent a stroke can significantly lower your risk and help you live a long and healthy life