What is Stroke?
A stroke, or “brain attack,” occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood it needs and, within minutes, begins to die and brain damage occurs. Although many people think of stroke as a condition that affects only older adults, strokes can and do occur in people of all ages. In fact, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than age 65. Strokes are treatable, but require immediate medical attention to limit damage. Please remember to call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience or observe the symptoms.
Knowledge is your best defense against a stroke as many strokes can be treated and prevented. First, you must understand the controllable and uncontrollable risk factors. Second, and equally as important, is knowing stroke symptoms. While neurosurgeons treat strokes and offer interventional surgical procedures, your best defense is controlling the major risk factors, as well as understanding the signs and symptoms to know when to seek immediate treatment.
Lower Your Risk
Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can minimize the risk for this life threatening condition. Here are some tips:
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Get moving, stay active, and incorporate exercise into your daily regimen.
- Don’t smoke! If you are a regular smoker, make a resolution to quit. If you are not a smoker, don’t start.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits vegetables, and whole grains, as well as low in fat and sodium.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Learn to Act F.A.S.T.
When responding to a stroke, every minute counts. Use FAST to remember the warning signs of a stroke:
(F)ace: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
(A)rms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
(S)peech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
(T)ime: If you observe any of these three signs, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to a hospital immediately.