According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts, preventing blood (and oxygen) flow.
It is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Yet 80% of strokes can be prevented.
There are two major forms of stroke. An ischemic stroke is related to a blood clot and requires restoring the blood flow. A hemorrhagic stroke indicates bleeding and calls for controlling blood loss.
The symptoms of a stroke depend on where in the brain they occur and the intensity of the event. Common signs include sudden numbness or loss of movement, especially if it affects only one side of your body. Other indicators are mental confusion, headaches, or trouble with vision, speaking, or balance.
We commonly educate our patients to use the acronym F.A.S.T. to detect stroke and take fast action. F is for facial drooping, A is for arm weakness, S is for slurred speech, and T for time to call 911. Though it has become more difficult to recognize stroke symptoms with the wearing of face masks/coverings, we must be all the more vigilant in quick identification and treatment.
Some factors are beyond our control. These include being past the age of 55 or having a family history of strokes. Men and certain ethnic groups like African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are also at higher risk.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to lower your risk. A healthy lifestyle will help keep your brain and whole body strong. Certain medical conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, also contribute to the likelihood of stroke, so that’s another good reason to manage them correctly.
The technical term for mini-strokes is transient ischemic attacks (TIA) where a blood vessel is briefly blocked. Up to half of all strokes occur within two days after a TIA so act promptly if you notice slurred speech or blurry vision.
Prompt medical treatment is vital to improve your chances of survival and recovery after a stroke. Even better, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of you or a loved one ever experiencing such an event.
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