Stroke Facts

A stroke is a “brain attack” that occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. There are two types of stroke Ischemic & Hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a block or clotted blood vessel. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a blood vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the brain. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time so it is important to be informed on the risk factors, signs, and treatments available.

We must asses some of the risk factors that can increase your chance of a stroke. First, there are factors you CAN control. These include a variety of unhealthy habits, including smoking and a high cholesterol diet. High weight can also affect your chances of having a stroke. These risk factors can be circumvented by exercising at least 30 minutes a day, eating healthy foods, and eating less. Another risk factor that you can change is how much alcohol you drink. You should limit this to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. However, there are also some factors you can not control. One of these is your age, as you get older your chance of a stroke increases. Another risk factor is your gender, which can affect your chances of a stroke, men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than a woman. Another factor, your race, and genes can increase your chance of a stroke. If your parents have had a stroke, you are at a higher risk. Another risk factor is diseases such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and some type of arthritis can increase your chances. A final risk factor is weak areas in an artery wall or abnormal arteries and veins.

Next, we will discuss some ways to recognize when someone is suffering from a stroke. If someone demonstrates any of these signs there is a 72% chance they are having a stroke, therefore they need to go to a hospital. The first is an uneven smile. During a stroke, one side of the face may not move as well as the other side. Make sure to ask the person to smile, if it is crooked or one side of the face is drooping the person may be having a stroke. Next is uneven reach. During a stroke, one side of the body may be weak or unable to move at all.  Ask the person to hold both of their arms straight out for 10 seconds. If one arm drifts down or if they are not able to raise it at all, they may be having a stroke.  Finally abnormal speech. During a stroke, mental confusion or slurred speech is common. Ask the person to repeat a familiar phrase, such as “The early bird catches the worm”. Listen to them and see if their words are slurred or mixed up. Some other signs include sudden weakness or numbness, sudden confusion, sudden dimness or loss of vision, sudden headaches, unexplained dizziness, and difficulty swallowing.

Finally, we will discuss some treatments for a stroke. The most important thing to do when someone is suffering from a stroke is to call 911 and get them to a hospital. Once they are at the hospital there is a variety of treatments that can help prevent death and further brain damage. These new treatments can help restore blood flow to the brain quickly. The FDA has approved a drug called Tissue Plasminogen Activator which can break up a blood clot. However, in order for this to be effective, it MUST be given within the first three hours of the onset of symptoms. Doctors may also use surgical interventions in order to remove a blood clot or stop the bleeding from a ruptured vessel. 
A stroke can happen to anyone at any time so it is important for everyone to know the risk factors, symptoms, and treatments. We highly encourage you to start taking steps early to help prevent yourself from having one. Also, share this information with others so they can be more informed about strokes. 

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