What is a stroke?

A stroke is a disruption in the normal blood supply to the brain. A stroke often occurs suddenly and affects its victims in different ways. It is the 3rd most common cause of death in the United States with approximately 500,000 strokes occuring each year.

A stroke can occur at any age but is most common in people over 45 years of age with increased frequency in those 65 and older. 10-15 percent more men are affected by strokes than women.

Warning strokes

Transient ischemic attacks, better know as TIAs, are small, warning strokes that can happen before a major stroke. They occur when blood clot clogs an artery for a short time. Signs of a TIA are similar to a stroke, but usually last only a few minutes.

Signs and symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Blindness in one eye
  • Sudden trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination
  • Tunnel vision
  • Numbness and tingling of arm, hand or leg
  • Weakness in face, arm or hand
  • Sudden confusion, trouble talking or understanding speech

3 major risk factors of stroke:

  • Hypertension – high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High stress levels
  • Elevated cholesterol levels

Now that you know why strokes strike, take these important steps to help prevent them:

  • Treat your high blood pressure – eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and exercise. Control your blood pressure with medication, if necessary
  • Quit smoking
  • Manage heart disease
  • Control diabetes
  • Seek help if you experience TIA or other stroke symptom

Stroke is an emergency!

If you or anyone you know has the symptoms of a stroke or TIA, go straight to emergency room or call 999. There are treatments that can be administered to help lessen the effects of a stroke, but it is a race against the clock. The quicker a person who has a stroke gets to the hospital, the better the chances of survival and recovery.

Source: SaintFrancis Health system