A stroke occurs when a blood vessel either bursts or is blocked by a blood clot, restricting the flow of oxygen to the brain. According to the National Stroke Association, within minutes to hours of a stroke, brain cells begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients needed to function.
There are three types of strokes:
Ischemic Stroke – This is the most common type of stroke, which is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain.
Hemorrhagic – This is the least common type of stroke, which is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – This type of stroke is defined as a neurologic deficit that has a complete clinical resolve within 24 hours.
TIAs are also known as a mini stroke or a stroke warning. Most TIAs last from 30 minutes to less than an hour, but the course can vary. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of the patients who experience a TIA will develop a stroke within one month of the event, and up to 50 percent will experience a stroke within five years.
Know the Signs
Recognizing the warning signs of a stroke could save your life:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially 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, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Seeking immediate medical care after the onset of any of these symptoms is vital to survival and the prevention of brain damage. Depending on the magnitude of the stroke and how quickly you receive treatment, the effects can range from minor weakness of a limb to paralysis on one side of the body or death.
Treatments can minimize these effects, but time is of the essence. If you or someone you know experiences one or more of the symptoms described above, call 911 immediately.
Reduce Your Risk
There are those risk factors, which are uncontrollable:
- Increase in age
- Gender (males are at greater risk than females)
- Race (African Americans are at greater risk than Caucasians)
- History of prior stroke
There are also lifestyle changes, which you can make to reduce your chance for a stroke:
- Exercise every day
- Eat healthy
- Quit smoking
- Control your blood pressure
- Treat diabetes
- Reduce sodium
- Visit your doctor regularly