What is a Stroke?

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is also the leading cause of disability.

The good news? As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable, mainly through lifestyle changes.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off suddenly. This may be caused by a blocked blood vessel or a burst blood vessel. This abrupt cutoff prevents the vital blood and oxygen that a brain needs, and results in brain injury.

The area of the brain where a stroke occurs plays a key role in how a patient is affected. A stroke on the left side of the brain will affect the right side of the body, while a stroke on the right side of the brain will affect the left side of the body. This may manifest as paralysis or weakness, particularly in the arms and legs. Left brain strokes can affect speech and language, while right brain strokes might affect vision. The type of stroke and how it affects the patient will determine treatment and recovery.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Some risk factors for stroke can be treated while others cannot. Treatable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Risk factors that cannot be treated are:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Prior history of stroke or heart attack

If any of the risk factors apply to you, please consult your physician to determine how you can minimize your risk.

Recognizing a Stroke

In the event someone is suffering a stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms could save the person’s life and even minimize the effects of the stroke. All you need to remember is F-A-S-T:

F: Face Drooping

A: Arm Weakness

S: Speech Difficulty

T: Time to Call 9-1-1