STROKE: What is it?

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen in a couple of different ways. One type of stoke is called an ischemic stroke. This means that blood flow has been cut off to a part of the brain because a blood clot has formed and gotten stuck in a blood vessel and blood cannot get around it. Another type of stroke is caused by a blood vessel rupturing (or breaking) and bleeding into an area of the brain causing the blood flow to be cut off. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke. When blood flow is cut off for any reason, the cells in the brain begin to die very quickly. When cells in an area of the brain die that area of the brain does not work very well, or not at all. The areas that can be affected by a stroke control many different things such as memory, speech and movement. The effects of a stroke may be very mild or they can be very severe.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke: If you or a loved one has any of these problems CALL 9-1-1 NOW:

  • Sudden weakness or feeling numb in the face, arm or leg, may be only on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache without a cause.

These are the SIGNS OF A STOKE. Remember, Time lost is Brain lost!

Risk Factors for Stroke:

There are many things that make you more likely to be at risk for a stroke. Some things you can’t control some things you can. Examples of things you can’t control are your age, race, sex, family history, or if you have had a stroke, TIA or heart attack in the past. There are medical risk factors and lifestyle risk factors that can be changed or controlled to cut down the risk of having a stroke.

Medical risk factors include: (not in your control)

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes–if you have diabetes
  • Having diseases of blood vessels like:
    • atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
    • peripheral artery disease (narrowing of the arteries in the legs and arms)
  • atrial fibrillation–irregular heartbeat/quivering of the upper heart chambers
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol

Lifestyle risk factors include: (completely within your control)

  • Smoking
  • Diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse

What can I do to cut my risk of stroke?

There are many things YOU can do to reduce you stroke risk, here are just a few:

  • Keep your blood pressure under control
  • If you smoke, QUIT!
  • Eat a healthy diet. If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar under control.
  • If your cholesterol is high, talk with your doctor about how to control it.
  • If you have atrial fibrillation, take your medications like the doctor tells you to.
  • Get more exercise, after you have talked to your doctor.
  • If you abuse alcohol or drugs, seek help, talk to your doctor or nurse.

I’ve had a stroke, now what?

When you go home it is important that you keep all of your follow up appointments with your doctor, take all of your medications just like your doctor prescribes or tells you to do. If you are going for physical therapy, it is important for you to follow those instructions as well.