What is a Stroke?
A Stroke is when brain cells die due to a lack of blood flow to the brain tissue. This can occur in one of two ways:
- When the supply of blood to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. This is called an ischemic stroke.
- When a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into or around the brain. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke.
Are You at Risk?
Some risk factors for stroke we cannot control. Our age is an example of this — the risk of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after the age of 55, according to the American Heart Association. Also, if we have a family history of stroke or heart disease we have a higher risk of developing a stroke. However, most risk factors for stroke we can control. Some important risk factors we can control are:
- Controlling high blood pressure
- If you smoke-quit
- Managing your diabetes
- Managing your cholesterol levels
What are the Signs of a Stroke?
Quick treatment can stop some strokes as they're occurring. If you get to the hospital fast, you may be able to walk out of it later with little or no disability.
The emphasis, however, is on fast. The sooner you get to the hospital for treatment the greater your chance of a meaningful recovery.
It is vital to recognize the signs of a stroke. They are sudden and may include:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, often on one side of the body
- Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble with balance or walking
- Severe headache with no known cause, sometimes with nausea or vomiting
If you think you or a loved one are having a stroke call 9-1-1 immediately.