A stroke is a medical emergency that needs urgent treatment. According to the CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, and it’s a leading cause of disability. Every year, more than 750,000 people in the US have a stroke. Even though it is life-threatening, early action can reduce brain damage and other complications. Effective emergency treatments can also help prevent disability from stroke.
What is a Stroke?
Stroke is a life-threatening condition that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel in our brain breaks and bleeds. A blockage may also cause it in the blood supply to the brain. This rupture or blockage in the blood vessel prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain’s tissues.
What are the 3 Types of Stroke?
1. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
A TIA or transient ischemic attack is often a mini-stroke. It occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked temporarily. It involves a blood clot that generally reverses on its own. Mini – stroke symptoms are similar to those of a full stroke. However, they’re temporary and disappear after a few minutes or hours when the blockage moves and blood flow is restored. If the victim has a severe carotid artery narrowing, healthcare providers may recommend a carotid endarterectomy surgery.
2. Ischemic stroke
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke that involves a blockage caused by either a clot or plaque in the artery. When an Ischemic stroke occurs, the arteries supplying blood to the brain become narrow or blocked. Blood clots, severely reduce blood flow to the brain, and plaque breaking off causes a blockage of the blood vessel. The symptoms and complications can last longer than a mini-stroke and may cause permanent damage.
3. Hemorrhagic stroke
A hemorrhagic stroke is usually caused by either a burst or a leaking blood vessel that seeps into the brain. The blood from that arteries creates excessive pressure in the skull. As a result, it swells the brain and damages brain cells and tissues.
What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Stroke?
Warning signs of stroke in both men and women include:
- Sudden weakness or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg.
- Speech difficulty and trouble understanding what others are saying.
- Loss of strength, coordination, sensation.
- Severe headache, accompanied by dizziness, vomiting, or altered consciousness
- Sudden dim vision, especially in one eye
- Sudden loss of balance, sometimes along with vomiting, nausea, fever, hiccups, or trouble swallowing.
- Fainting briefly
- Dizziness or sudden falls with no apparent cause
When to see a doctor?
It’s critical to seek emergency treatment if you notice any signs or common symptoms of a stroke, even if they come and go or disappear entirely. Think “FAST” and do the following:
- Face: Ask the victim to smile. Then observe if their face droops.
- Arms. Ask the victim to raise both their arms and watch if one of the legs is weak or sags
- Speech. Ask the victim to say a simple phrase. Listen carefully for slurred or strange-sounding words.
- Time. Call 911 right away because every minute counts.
Health care providers use the acronym FAST to remind people how to recognize the signs of a stroke and what to do. Call 911 or emergency services right away when you notice any stroke symptoms. Don’t wait to see if symptoms stop. The longer it is untreated, the potential for brain damage and disability increases. So if you’re with someone you suspect is having a stroke, observe the person while waiting for emergency medical personnel.
When the emergency medical team arrives, they need information such as the time when the symptoms begin, medical history of stroke, if there’s any metal on the victim’s body, medicine or supplements, do you currently take, and if the victim suffers from a bleeding disorder. It’s critical that a stroke victim receives evaluation and proper treatment quickly to minimize the injury to the brain tissue.
How to prevent a stroke?
A heart-healthy lifestyle can’t prevent all strokes. But it can make a radical difference in lowering your risk for stroke. These changes include the following:
Avoid smoking – Smoking can double your risk for stroke. Nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide in smoke lowers the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. Even breathing secondhand smoke can increase your chances of a stroke.
Reduce alcohol use – Heavy alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure and triglycerides, increasing the risk of stroke. If you’re having difficulty reducing your intake, reach out to your health care provider for help.
Healthy Diet – Having a healthy eating habit can lower your risk of stroke. Increase your consumption of high-fiber foods, fresh fruits and veggies, and lean proteins. Avoid food with high trans fat and saturated fat content because they can clog your arteries. Cut the salt, and avoid processed foods.
Physical Activity- It’s enough to have 30 minutes of regular exercise. You should do enough physical activity to make you breathe hard, but not huff and puff. If necessary, talk to your doctor before you start doing physical activities.
Taking these measures will help you be in a better shape and prevent stroke, especially if you’re elderly or with a family history of heart attack and stroke because your chances of having a stroke are higher. It’s also important to talk with your doctor about how often to get a checkup for your cholesterol level, blood pressure, and any conditions. They can also help you in making these lifestyle changes and offer guidance to prevent future strokes.
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