A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted. This damages the brain cells in the portion of the brain that is deprived of oxygen. Nerve cells can begin to die within minutes. Usually this happens because a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the neck or brain.
About 800,000 people experience strokes in the United States every year; sadly, about 80% of them are considered preventable.
Symptoms of a Stroke
How can you tell if someone is having a stroke? Experts suggest that you think of the word FAST. The letters stand for:
F - Face Drooping
A - Arm Weakness
S - Speech Difficulty
T - Time to Call 9-1-1
It is extremely important that you get to a hospital immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke. There are treatments that can often keep you from having permanent damage as a result of a stroke, but they only work if administered within the first three hours. Since it takes a little time to diagnose the stroke and set up the treatment, you should try to get the patient to the hospital within the first hour or two.
Stroke Risk Factors
Below are the risk factors that make you more likely to have a stroke. Fortunately, some of these are the result of lifestyle choices you can change. Other risk factors can be controlled with medication. If you want to live a long, healthy life, then you need to take immediate steps to reduce your risk factors wherever possible.
* High blood pressure is the most significant cause of strokes. If you consistently have a blood pressure reading of above 140/90 then you are at an increased risk.
* If you have had a prior stroke, you are at greater risk of another one.
* Family history of a stroke also increases your risk.
* Heart disease, including atrial fibrillation
* Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
* High cholesterol
* Alcohol and/or drug abuse
* Aging -- the one factor that affects all of us
"Strokes: Know Your Risks," Answers Magazine, 2015, pg. 54
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