National Stroke Awareness Month
How Much Do You Know About Stroke?
Learn this information thoroughly. The more you understand about stroke, the better prepared you will be to protect yourself or to ACT if you or someone you know has a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a “brain attack.” It occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted.
The two main causes of stroke are
The most common type of stroke is the kind caused by blood clots.
- A blood vessel in the brain ruptures (a condition called an intracranial hemorrhage)
- A blood clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain
How serious is stroke?
A stroke is a very serious medical emergency. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States—right after heart disease and cancer.
About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. That means that about 795,000 Americans have a stroke every year. And more than 163,000 of them die, and many more suffer permanent disability.
What are the signs and symptoms of stroke?
Stroke symptoms always come on suddenly. If your symptoms go away in several minutes, you may have had a “mini-stroke,” also known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. TIAs don’t usually cause permanent damage, but you should take them very seriously; they are an early warning of a full-blown stroke.
- Sudden numbness, tingling or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
- Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden memory loss or personality or mood changes
If you or someone you know experiences the signs or symptoms of stroke or TIA, call 911 immediately. The sooner a stroke victim receives treatment, the less likely that person will die or suffer permanent disability.
What are the risk factors of stroke?
- High blood pressure (hypertension)—can raise your risk of stroke four times higher than it would normally be. Smoking, high sodium in the diet and drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure.
- High blood cholesterol—can cause fatty deposits in arteries that may block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. Diet, exercise and family history all affect cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease—may cause clots to form that may break off and travel to the brain, where they can cause a stroke.
- Diabetes—causes sugar (glucose) to build up in the blood. High sugar tends to occur with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and causes damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of clots.
- Overweight and obesity—can raise your cholesterol and blood pressure, increasing your risk for diabetes and stroke.
- Sickle cell disease—this disease, common in African American and Hispanic children, can cause a stroke if the sickle cells get caught in a blood vessel and block blood flow to the brain.
- Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)—if you’ve already had a stroke or a mini-stroke (TIA), you are at increased risk of having another stroke.
What can you do to avoid stroke or lower your risk?
Strokes occur in people of all ages, but they are especially common in older adults. The National Stroke Association says about 80 percent of strokes could be prevented if people make certain lifestyle changes.
- Eat a healthy diet—eat foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in fiber and antioxidants. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight—being overweight or obese raises your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.
- Keep active—try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Regular exercise will help you manage other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Don’t smoke—smoking is a huge risk factor for stroke and many other serious health problems. Avoid secondhand smoke, too.
- Drink alcohol in moderation—excessive alcohol consumption raises blood pressure. Men should have no more than one or two drinks a day; women, no more than one drink a day.
- Keep a check on your blood pressure and cholesterol—ask your doctor about how often you should have these checked.
- Manage your diabetes—talk with your doctor about treatment options.
To learn more about stroke, visit the American Stroke Association or the National Stroke Association.
With stroke, time = brain cells!
The sooner a stroke victim receives medical help, the less likely that person will die or suffer permanent disability.
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