Think of a stroke as a “brain attack.” Just like any other organ in the body, the brain needs a constant supply of blood to function properly. The signs of a stroke are usually very sudden. During a stroke, blood stops flowing to part of the brain. This can happen if there is a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain.
The two types of stroke include:
- Ischemic stroke: This occurs when an artery is blocked by blood clots and accounts for 87 percent of all strokes.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when weak spots on the blood vessel wall break. This type of stroke, which damages or kills nearby brain cells, accounts for 13 percent of all strokes.
Although stroke can strike anyone at any time, certain risk factors can increase chances of a stroke. However, studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working to reduce personal risk.
This is why it is so important to manage personal risk and know how to recognize and respond to stroke signs and symptoms
Suggested stroke prevention guidelines are as follows:
- Monitor blood pressure
- Identify atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heartbeat that can increase stroke risk by 500 percent
- Stop smoking: Smoking doubles the risk of stroke
- Limit alcohol use
- Be aware of cholesterol levels
- Control diabetes
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be active
- Treat circulation problems
What should you do if you think someone is having a stroke?
One way we can all help is to remember the FAST test for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:
F = Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = Time If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 911.
National Stroke Association 2011
How should you respond if you are experiencing symptoms of a stroke?
- Call 911 or your local emergency number.
- Note the time when the signs of stroke first appear.
- Do not drive yourself or your family member to the hospital – have emergency assistance come to you.