What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.
Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.
What are risk factors that we can control?
Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable by managing the primary risk factors.
The leading risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. People with blood pressure of 130/90 or higher have twice the risk of stroke of someone whose blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
Blood pressure can be easily monitored at home, at free stations at local pharmacies or by visiting a doctor. If you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about how to manage or lower your blood pressure. Eating healthier, exercising more, reducing stress and medication could all improve blood pressure.
Another leading risk factor for stroke is smoking. Smokers have double the risk of stroke than nonsmokers.
Other risk factors that can be controlled are diabetes, obesity, diet, exercise and high cholesterol.
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
Remember the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to spot a stroke in yourself or in someone else.
F = Face Drooping (One side of the face will droop)
A = Arm Weakness (The person will have weakness on one side of the body making it difficult to lift their arm)
S = Slurred Speech
T = Time to call 9-1-1
If you see someone who is experiencing any of the above symptoms of a stroke, it’s important to call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke is a medical emergency, but it can often be treated successfully within a narrow window of time.
How is stroke treated?
87% of strokes are ischemic strokes, that is strokes caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. If diagnosed and treated quickly, the clot can be dissolved or removed with medication or a mechanical instrument. The longer that blood flow to the brain is blocked the higher chance of death or long-term disability, which is why it is so critical to treat stroke quickly.
For more information about stroke, stroke prevention, stroke treatment and stroke recovery visit www.stroke.org.