What is a stroke?
Stroke is a “brain attack” occurring when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. Most strokes are caused by a clot that has built up in a brain artery or one that has travelled there from another part of the body (embolic or ischemic stroke). Other strokes occur when a blood vessel in or near the brain ruptures, resulting in bleeding within or over the surface of the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Stroke is the fifth leading killer and number one cause of disability in the United States.
What are the effects of a stroke?
A stroke victim an experience weakness or paralysis of one side of the body, loss of speech or the ability to understand others, memory loss, or a combination of these. Strokes can be slight or severe, and symptoms can be temporary or permanent, depending upon the extent of damage to the brain. Injury from stroke can be harmful to quality of life and stroke can also cause death. Possible complications from stroke can include pneumonia or potentially dangerous blood clots due to extended periods of immobility.
Can a stroke be stopped?
There are treatments available for stroke, but help must be sought out quickly. Ideally, treatments should begin within three hours of the onset of symptoms.
What are stroke symptoms?
Call 911 immediately if you experience any of these warning signs:
Sudden severe headache with no known cause, or any of the following.
Balance loss or loss of coordination that occurs suddenly
Eye problems such as sudden vision loss in one or both eyes
Face numbness or mouth drooping on one side or the other
Arm or leg weakness, especially localized to one side of the body
Speech difficulty or sudden difficulty swallowing. And remember,
Time is of the essence, the faster you seek out treatment, the more options you will have to prevent long-lasting effects
How can I reduce my risk of a stroke?
- Exercise regularly
- Have your blood pressure checked every year
- Have your cholesterol checked regularly
- Have your heart rate and rhythm checked
- Do not smoke
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Enjoy a low-salt, low-fat diet
- If you have diabetes, take appropriate steps to control it
- Ask your doctor if you have any circulation problems
- Seek immediate attention if you have stroke symptoms