Strokes are a serious health issue, but early treatment may minimize the effects. Give you and your loved ones the best chance at recovery by learning the basic facts about strokes.
Know the Facts About Strokes
1. STROKE: What is it? Strokes are events that interrupt blood flow to the brain. Some people make a full recovery, but most survivors experience some degree of disability. Strokes can be caused by a blood clot or when a blood vessel breaks.
2. Understand the prevalence. No one is exempt from a stroke. It is sneaky and can creep up on anyone. Anyone can have a stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. The good news is that 80% of strokes can be prevented.
3. Learn how to recognize the symptoms. The symptoms of a stroke depend on where in the brain they occur and the severity 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, disorientation
***headaches, pain, or tightness felt on the head
***trouble with vision can be blurred vision, double vision, or partial blindness
*** Slurred speech
*** and sudden onset of impaired balance.
***incoordination (Ex: cannot hold a spoon, drops objects)
***hemi-weakness, or weakness on one side of the body or the leg: leg or hand can feel heavy
***Facial asymmetry (one side of face droops)
*** When asked to stick out tongue, tongue drifts to one side
***Drooling on one side of the mouth
4. Know the uncontrollable risk factors. 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.
5. Manage the controllable risks. 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.
6. Distinguish between different kinds of strokes. There are two major forms of stroke:
· An ischemic stroke is related to a blood clot to any region in the brain and requires restoring the blood flow.
· A hemorrhagic stroke indicates bleeding and calls for controlling blood loss, as in an aneurysm.
7. Know what are mini-strokes. The technical term for mini-strokes is transient ischemic attacks (TIA) where a blood vessel is briefly blocked.
Preventing and Treating Strokes
1. Seek emergency care. The first hours after a stroke are a crucial opportunity to minimize brain damage. Go to the hospital immediately or call 911. Fast action makes all the difference.
2. Consult with your doctor. Surgery is sometimes needed but many strokes are treated with medication and lifestyle changes. Your doctor can advise you on the best regimen for you.
3. Quit smoking. Giving up tobacco lowers your risk of stroke in addition to all the other benefits. Check out the website of the American Lung Association for tips on quitting.
4. Drop or control that weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight will also help. Find a sensible diet you can stick with for life.
5. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is good for your brain and waistline. Keep your circulatory system in prime condition with a half-hour aerobic workout at least a few days a week.
6. Eat a balanced diet. Proper nutrition provides your brain cells with the fuel they need. Get most of your calories from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Select lean sources of protein and healthy fats.
7. Easy and be smart with your alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can increase your risk for a stroke due to elevated or high blood pressure. After a hemorrhagic stroke, avoid drinking alcohol weeks after and consult your doctor when it is safe for you to consume some. This is also because some medications prescribed after a stroke prohibits alcohol use and can even become fatal.
Using alcohol responsibly protects you from strokes. The general guidelines are two drinks or less daily for men and one for women.
Prompt medical treatment is vital to improve your chances of survival and recovery after a stroke. A healthy lifestyle, as always, can significantly reduce the risk of you or a loved one ever experiencing such an event.