Stroke is also called a brain attack. There are two cases of occurrence of a stroke — something blocks blood supply to part of the brain or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain are seriously damaged or die. This results in a lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is a major cause of serious disability for adults. About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.
Stroke is preventable. You may have the ability to prevent stroke or at least lower your chances of having a stroke.
Stroke is treatable. Learn the signs of stroke. If you think someone is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. Getting fast treatment is crucially important to preventing disability and death from stroke.
Types of Stroke
To understand the stroke, it helps to understand the brain. The brain controls our movements and stores our memories. It is the source of our language, thoughts, and emotions. The brain also controls body functions, like breathing and digestion.
To work properly, the brain needs oxygen. Although human brain makes up only 2% of body weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen breathed. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the brain.
If something happens to block the blood flow, brain cells start to die within minutes because they cannot get oxygen. This causes a stroke.
There are two types of Stroke:
- Ischemic stroke – It occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Fatty deposits called plaque, building up in the blood vessels, can also cause blockages.
- Hemorrhagic stroke – It occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood builds up and damages surrounding tissue of the brain.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
During a stroke, every minute is crucial! Fast treatment can lower the brain damage that stroke may cause.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can take quick actions and luckily save a life, maybe even your own.
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty in understanding speech;
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
- Sudden trouble walking, loss of balance, dizziness, or lack of coordination;
- Sudden severe headache without a known cause;
Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms. Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke.
The treatments of stroke work best if it is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. If you think someone may be suffering a stroke, act F.A.S.T. doing the following simple test:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
Anyone may have a stroke at any age. But there are certain things that can increase your risk of having a stroke. The best way to protect yourself is to understand the risk and how to control it.
Health Conditions That Increase the Risk of Stroke
- Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
- High Blood Pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart Disease
Behaviors that Increase the Risk of Stroke
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Too much alcohol
- Tobacco use
Family History and Other Characteristics That Increase the Risk of Stroke
- Genetics and Family History
- Age – The higher your age, the more likely you are to have a stroke.
- Sex – Stroke is more common in women than men. Pregnancy and use of birth control pills increase stroke risk for women.
Stroke Prevention: What Can You Do?
You can prevent stroke by making healthy choices and controlling health conditions.
Preventing Stroke by Healthy Living
Healthy Diet – Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods rich in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and salt. Let your food be high in fiber.
Healthy Weight – Being overweight or obese increases a lot your risk for stroke. To determine whether your weight is in the healthy range, you can calculate your body mass index (BMI).
Physical Activity – It can help you stay at a healthy weight, as well as lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
No smoking – Cigarettes greatly increase your chances of having a stroke.
Alcohol – Avoid drinking much alcohol. It can raise your blood pressure. Men should limit the drinks to two per day, and women can afford only one.
Preventing Stroke by Controlling Health Conditions
Check Cholesterol – Your doctor should test cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. If you have high cholesterol, medicine and lifestyle changes can lower your risk of stroke.
Control Blood Pressure – High blood pressure usually does not have symptoms, so have it checked on a regular basis. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest some changes in your lifestyle, recommend you choose foods with lower sodium or prescribe medicines.
Control Diabetes – If you have symptoms of diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you get tested. Also, certain lifestyle changes, such as getting more physical activity or choosing healthier foods, would also be helpful to keep your blood sugar under control, thus lowering your risk of stroke.
Treat Heart Disease – If you have certain heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, your health care team may recommend medical treatment or surgery. Taking care of heart problems is very important for the prevention of stroke.