What is a stroke?
A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or a rupture in the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. When the brain lacks blood, it leads to oxygen deficiency, which leads to injury or even death of the brain cells and nerves. A stroke can be a short one that lasts 5 minutes or can be extended up to 24 hours.
Why is stroke dangerous?
According to data, stroke is the second highest cause that leads to disability. It can leave permanent disabilities if the intervention comes late. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs to be treated with a sense of urgency. It is also the fifth most common reason for death among the general population in the US. So, detecting a stroke is extremely crucial when it comes to saving lives.
Types of Strokes
There are mainly two types of strokes; ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. These two stroke types have different effects on the brain, and their cause differs from each other.
One type of stroke is ischemic stroke. The root cause of an ischemic stroke is a temporary interruption in the blood flow to a part of the brain. More than 70% of the strokes are ischemic strokes. There is a medical condition called transient ischemic attack (TIA), in other words, mini-stroke or mild stroke, a type of ischemic stroke, a shorter attack that acts like a stroke.
Mild stroke symptoms are like regular strokes. We can consider them a warning sign of a possible future incident of stroke, but they last shorter, usually up to 5 minutes only. If you detect a mini-stroke, it is a sign that you need medical help immediately. If we ignore transient ischemic attacks, the risk of hemorrhagic strokes may increase.
Another stroke type is hemorrhagic stroke, mainly because of a blood leak or rupture in the brain artery. Brain cells are put under too much pressure and eventually damaged by the leaked blood. The post-effect of hemorrhagic stroke is more damaging and harder to control.
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
There are some warning signs of a stroke. The key to evaluating the condition as a stroke or not is lying under some keywords, “sudden” and “severe.”
Five warning signs of a stroke are:
- Sudden numbness.
- Sudden vision loss.
- Trouble in walking and body functions.
- Severe headache.
- Sudden confusion in speech.
Numbness can develop suddenly in the face, arm, or leg. It primarily affects one side of the body. Partial vision loss can be seen in one or both eyes with blurred, blackened, or double vision. Functional movement problems are felt as dizziness or difficulty in walking. Individuals may feel Sudden loss of balance and coordination weakness in the limbs. Severe headaches without any known cause are also a strong sign. This symptom may be accompanied by vomiting or alteration in consciousness. The one having a stroke may experience trouble in interpreting and understanding speeches or troubled, slurred speaking.
How to recognize the symptoms of a stroke?
There are apparent symptoms when it comes to identifying a stroke. There is a method called FAST, a test that examines the most common signs of a stroke. Every four letters of the word fast refer to a checkpoint known as the 4 silent signs of a stroke.
“F” : Face
“A” : Arms
“S” : Speech
“T” : Time
Face: Ask the person to smile, and check whether one side of their face is drooping. People having strokes have difficulties when using facial expressions.
Arm: Ask the person to raise their hands and check whether one of their arms falls downwards. People having strokes may have paralysis or weakness in their arms and movement functions.
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a short phrase and check both if they understand it
correctly and if their words sound slurred or troubled.
Time: If you spot any of these signs, you should immediately call 9-1-1! Do not wait to see if symptoms stop.
It is essential to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, identify the emergency and quickly act on it by getting the medical support needed fast before the stroke hits and causes inevitable damage. If treatment is received soon, the possibility of damage can be reduced or prevented.
The important thing here is to note when the first stroke symptom appeared. With this info, medical health care providers can identify the type of stroke and determine the most suitable treatment for the stroke and the right approach for each patient.
Another crucial thing is not driving to the hospital by car and with someone else. The first responder should be medical personnel from the ambulance team who can quickly evaluate the symptoms and medical condition. It is possible that medical personnel can give life-saving treatment on the way to the hospital.
If you or someone you’re with may be having a stroke, pay particular attention to when the symptoms began. Some treatment options can only be effective if they are given soon after the beginning of the stroke.
How to prevent a stroke?
Of course, certain conditions increase the risk of stroke, like chronic diseases, hypertension, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes.
But there are always risks for everyone. Therefore, the way to prevent stroke passes through living as healthy as possible by keeping a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing stress factors, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, paying attention to your weight, checking cholesterol and diabetes, and blood pressure level periodically. If you have had a stroke or TIA before, keeping a healthy routine is extremely important because the risk level of people who previously had a stroke is higher.