You have probably heard a lot about stroke before, and for those at risk, it’s critical to recognize the signs. A stroke is a medical emergency that can lead to severe brain damage and focal neurological deficits. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by a blocked vessel or an intracerebral bleed. Without a steady blood supply, the brain cells die, leading to long-term disability or even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every three and a half minutes, someone dies from a stroke. The good news is that many people can survive a stroke and fully recover with prompt medical attention.
What are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
The symptoms of a stroke can vary. It will depend on the severity of the attack and which part of the brain is affected. The most common symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking
- Difficulty in understanding speech
- Sudden altered vision
- Sudden difficulty in walking (ataxia)
- Dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- Severe headache
These symptoms may be accompanied by a loss of consciousness or a seizure. If you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
What are the Risk Factors for Stroke?
Several factors can increase the likelihood of stroke. The most common risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. Other risk factors include family history, sleep apnea, and a history of heart disease or previous stroke.
How to Prevent Stroke?
While some risk factors are beyond your control, there are specific steps you can take to prevent stroke:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes, which can increase your risk of stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce your risk.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke. Quitting smoking can help lower your risk of stroke and improve your overall health.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Limiting alcohol consumption to moderate levels can help prevent stroke.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise aids in lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of diabetes, all of which can ultimately reduce your risk of stroke.
- Manage chronic conditions: If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, it is essential to manage these conditions through medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both.
- Recognizing the signs of a stroke and taking prompt action is critical in reducing the risk of long-term disabilities or even death. Call for emergency medical assistance immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing stroke symptoms. With quick treatment, the damage caused by a stroke can be minimized.
A stroke is a major medical emergency that needs rapid medical intervention. Seek immediate medical help if you notice any of the above symptoms in yourself or your loved ones. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have a family history of stroke. Your physician may recommend lifestyle or medication changes.