Stroke is the second most common cause of deaths around the world and a severe cause of lifelong disability in many cases. Recognizing its risk factors and early signs can help avert the harsh consequences of this life-threatening disorder.
How does stroke occur?
Stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is hindered or decreased. This may be due to a blockage in the blood vessels supplying the brain (ischemic stroke) or bursting of blood vessels (hemorrhagic stroke). This causes injury to that part of the brain and adversely affects the body parts controlled by it.
Risk factors for stroke include heart disease, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, among others. Often strokes are preceded by a ‘warning’ or a ‘mini’ stroke, termed as a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
. It has symptoms similar to that of stroke but doesn’t cause harm to the brain. Watch for the symptoms, as preventive measures can help prevent a major attack and damage.
Learn About the 6 Warning Signs of Stroke
The warning signs of stroke may occur days or hours before a stroke actually occurs. Understanding these and reacting to them in the right way can prevent serious damage to the brain, permanent disability, or even death. DO NOT ignore these 6 tell-tale signs of an impending stroke:
1#. Numbness or weakness in face or limbs: One of the most common signs is the feeling of numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg. This is usually seen in one half of the body. This is because the brain has two hemispheres and each controls the opposite side of our body.
2#. Drooping face: One side of the face around the corner of your mouth may droop as the sign of an impending stroke. The smile too is drooped. The side of the face affected depends on the affected side of the brain. One may face difficulty in controlling facial expressions at this time.
3#. Slurred speech or difficulty understanding: Stroke impairs the brain’s ability to process words and one may experience difficulty in speaking. The patient also finds it difficult to understand what others are saying and may have trouble reading, comprehending, or writing.
4#. Troubled vision: A person’s vision may get blurred, as stroke sometimes tends to damage the controlling unit of the brain for this function. The person may have troubled vision in one or both eyes.
5#. Difficulty walking: A person may experience numbness and weakness in limbs and may feel dizzy, apart from losing his balance. Stroke may cause a lack of coordination and the person might face difficulty in getting up, walking, balancing or staying upright.
6#. Sudden and severe headache: With no obvious cause, you may feel a sudden and sharp headache that doesn’t seem to be like a headache you usually get. This may occur in hemorrhagic stroke. A headache can sometimes be accompanied by dizziness or loss of consciousness.
F - Face drooping: When the person is asked to smile, the face droops to one side and the smile looks uneven; this may occur along with numbness.
A - Arm weakness: The person may feel weakness in the arm. If he/she tries lifting the arm, the arm may drift downward.
S - Speech difficulty: The person may face difficulty in speaking, understanding, writing, or reading.
T - Time: If you notice the above signs, call emergency right away.
Preventing Stoke: Things you can do
To protect yourself and the people you love, alongside recognizing these signs, you should work towards learning and reducing your risk factors. Set some healthy goals such as:
- Eat healthy, nutrient-enriched, low-fat foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid trans fats.
- Exercise on a regular basis. If you are recovering from a stroke, talk to your healthcare provider and rehabilitation team for a list of dos and don’ts.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure. Avoid too much salt in the diet.
- Control your blood sugar levels, if you are a diabetic.
- Check your weight. Being overweight and obese increases the risk of developing severe health conditions.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is hazardous for your overall wellbeing
- Avoid alcohol. Too much alcohol triggers a rise in blood pressure and arrhythmias that can increase the risk of stroke. If you or your loved one has survived a stroke, even a small amount of alcohol can be dangerous.
- Follow up regularly with your healthcare provider. Ensure proper medical care if you or your loved one has suffered a stroke before or if they are at high risk of getting one. Take extra precautions if you have any underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke. Ask a Cardiologist online to know more about stroke.
Stroke is a serious complication that needs immediate attention. DO NOT overlook the warning signs. Act FAST! Quick treatment can save one from disabilities and damage that may last a lifetime.