Reducing Your Risk of a Stroke
A stroke is a medical emergency and a leading cause of death in the U.S. A stroke happens when a blockage develops in a blood vessel and travels to the brain, stopping blood flow. Less commonly, a stroke is caused when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
If a stoke is left untreated, cells in the brain can begin to die. The result can be disability or death. If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, it's critical that you seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Signs of a Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side.
- Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing.
- Sudden, severe headache with unknown cause.
- Sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance.
- Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others.
Time is important, do not wait to see if the sytoms immprove, call 911 immediately if any of these symptoms are present.
How a Stroke Can Lead To Disability or Death
When starved of oxygen, brain cells begin dying within minutes. Once brain tissue has died, the body funtions controlled by that area of the brain do not work properly. This is why strokes are a leading cause of long-term disability. If medical treatment is sought immediatly, clot-busting drugs can reduce the risk of brain damage, but they must be used within three hours of the initial stroke symptoms.
How You Can Reduce Your Risk Of a Stroke
You can reduce your risk of a stroke by controlling the most common conditions that can lead to a strokes.
- Quit smoking
- Treat high pressure
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol and salt intake
- Eat a healthier diet with more veggies, fish, and whole grains
There are stroke risk factors that are beyond our control, such as getting older and having a family history of strokes. Men are also more likely to have a stroke. However, more stroke deaths occur in women. African-Americans, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives also are at greater risk compared to people of other ethnicities.