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Recognizing a Stroke

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Having a stroke is the third cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of adult disability (strokeassocation.org).

 

Nearly 600,000 people become victims of a stroke every year.

 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes the good news is strokes can be prevented if caught within the first 60 minutes of experiencing stroke symptoms.

 

A stroke injures the brain, therefore you may not realize you are having a stroke.  To a bystander, someone who is having a stroke may just look confused or unaware.  Stroke victims have the best chance for survival if someone around them recognizes the symptoms and acts quickly (NINDS.org).

 

What Is a Stroke?


According to the NINDS and AmericanHeart.org;

 

A stroke, sometimes known as a “brain attack,” occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted.  When a stroke occurs the brain cells in the immediate area begin to die within minutes (usually 3 to 4 minutes) due to lack of oxygen and nutrients.  Without oxygen or nutrients the nerve cells in the affected area can’t function properly.  Therefore, when nerve cells can’t work, the part of the body that is affected, can’t be controlled either.

 

There can be devastating permanent effects to someone who experiences a stroke because dead brain cells can’t be replaced.

 

Are There Different Types of Strokes?

 

There are two different types of strokes;

  1. Ischemic stroke- this type of stroke is caused by blockage of blood vessels.
    1. This type of stroke is the most common and accounts for nearly 80% of all strokes.
    2. This type of stroke often occurs at night or first thing in the morning.
    3. You may experience a transient ischemic attack “TIA” which is known as a “mini stroke or warning stroke”.  TIA’s have the same symptoms of a stroke but only last a few minutes.  Stroke symptoms last much longer and are often permanent.
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke- this type of stroke is caused by a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and begins bleeding into the brain..  According to AH, bleeding strokes have a much higher death rate than strokes caused by clots.
    1. This type of stroke accounts for nearly 20% of all strokes.

 

Learning The Signs of a Stroke

 

Provided by America’s National Stroke Association

 

The symptoms of a stroke are often distinct because they happen so quickly;

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding someone else’s speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no main cause

 

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you think someone may be experiencing a stroke, act FAST!

 

Face- ask the person to smile, does one side droop?

Arms- ask the person to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?

Speech- ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  Is their speech slurred?

Time- if you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately and describe all symptoms to the dispatcher.

 

Risk Factors of Experiencing a Stroke

 

There are many health factors that can increase your risk of a stroke, some can be changed, some can’t…

 

Those you can change;

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol

Those that can’t be changed;

  • Age
  • Heredity (family history)
  • Race
  • Sex (gender)
  • Prior stroke, TIA or heart attack

Did you know…High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for a stroke. (Dr. Larry B. Goldstein)

 

You have the Power To End Stroke!  Learn more:

http://www.powertoendstroke.org/

 

Sources:

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/knowstroke.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/ref/health/healthguide/esn-stroke-qa.html

http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4755

http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/UnderstandingRisk/Understanding-Risk_UCM_308539_SubHomePage.jsp

http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=SYMP

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