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Health news and blog


    Know the signs of stroke and help save lives

    Having awareness about stroke cause, symptoms, and response can be the difference between life and death


    May is a time dedicated to awareness about strokes, their prevention, and the signs and symptoms to watch out for. According to the CDC, strokes, also known as “brain attacks,” kill nearly 150,000 Americans each year, so it’s important to learn the aspects. Our doctors broke down what strokes are, who is most at risk, how to recognize the signs, and the preventative steps you can take.

    What is a stroke?

    A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. There are two main types of strokes: ischemic strokes, caused by a blockage in a blood vessel, and hemorrhagic strokes, caused by bleeding in the brain. Strokes are a medical emergency and require immediate attention to minimize brain damage.

    Who is most at risk of a stroke?

    While strokes can happen to anyone at any age, certain factors increase the risk. The risk factors include age (over 55), gender, ethnicity, family history, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Considering about 80% of strokes are preventable, it’s important to consider risks that can be changed, and take precautions against them.

    Take our quiz to see if you are at higher risk for a stroke.

    What are the signs and symptoms?

    Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke is crucial for seeking immediate medical help. Remember the acronym FAST:

    F: Face drooping

    Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?

    A: Arm weakness or numbness

    Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

    S: Speech difficulty

    Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?

    T: Time to call 9-1-1

    If the person shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

    Other symptoms may include sudden dizziness, loss of balance, vision problems, severe headache, and confusion. It's important not to ignore these signs, as early intervention can greatly improve outcomes.

    Can a stroke be prevented?

    While not all strokes can be prevented, many risk factors are modifiable. High blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor for strokes. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing underlying medical conditions, you can significantly reduce your risk.

    Regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, managing stress, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are all important steps in stroke prevention.

    How is a stroke treated?

    If you have a stroke, you may receive emergency care and treatment to prevent another stroke. This can include surgery and/or medication. With about 1 in 4 strokes recurring, these measures can be the difference between life and death.

    After a stroke, many people need rehabilitation to help them recover. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These therapies help people regain strength, movement, and speech skills.

    It's important to get help right away when someone has a stroke, even if the symptoms go away. Treatment focuses on getting blood flowing to the brain again and preventing more damage. Quick action and rehabilitation can make a big difference in recovery and getting back to normal life.

    What steps can I take to avoid a stroke?

    Here are some practical steps you can take to safeguard your brain health and reduce the risk of a stroke:

    • Get regular check-ups: Visit your healthcare provider regularly to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
    • Maintain a healthy weight: Do regular physical activity and follow a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
    • Don't smoke (and avoid secondhand smoke): Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of stroke.
    • Drink alcohol in moderation: Limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels, which helps reduce bleeding risk.
    • Be aware of your family history: Understand your family's medical history, especially concerning strokes and cardiovascular diseases.
    • Stay informed: Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of strokes, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

    By understanding what strokes are, who is at risk, how to identify the signs and symptoms, and the steps to prevent strokes, you are better equipped to prioritize your brain health. Take control of your well-being by adopting a healthy lifestyle, making informed choices, and spreading awareness about stroke prevention. Remember, every effort counts in protecting your brain. 

    For more information on our neuroscience services and stroke care, click here.