How can you prevent a stroke from happening?
Strokes occur due to the obstruction of blood flow to the brain. Two types of strokes obstruct the blood flow to the brain.
- Ischemic stroke: This type of stroke occurs due to the formation of clots.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke occurs due to bleeding in the brain.
Some irreversible factors, such as age and family history, are likely to increase the risk of stroke. These factors cannot be modified. However, many such preventable or modifiable factors can help prevent strokes.
Here are several ways to start reining in your risks today to prevent stroke before it happens.
- Treat hypertension: Hypertension is the most potent risk factor for stroke. It increases the risk of stroke by two- to four-fold before the age of 80. Hypertension is associated with thickened artery walls and the deposition of cholesterol or other fats to form plaques. High blood pressure can weaken the arteries and can make them burst, leading to hemorrhagic stroke. Several methods to control high blood pressure include
- Quit cigarette smoking: Cigarette smoke causes a two-fold increase in the risk of ischemic stroke and a four-fold increase in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Smoking can increase the risk of stroke in the following ways
- It promotes the buildup of fatty substances in the main neck artery (carotid artery) that supplies blood to the brain.Nicotine raises blood pressure and carbon monoxide from smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the brain.
- Cigarette smoke thickens the blood leading to clot formation.
- Smoking promotes aneurysm formation.
- Medications or therapy may help you to quit smoking.
- Manage heart health: Some heart disorders can result in blood clots that may break loose and block vessels leading to the brain, which include
Medications, medical procedures and surgery can treat these disorders.
- Limit alcohol: High alcohol content can raise blood pressure and triglycerides. Limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men to help reduce side effects. One drink means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
- Treat diabetes: Diabetes can damage blood vessels over time and lead to clot formation inside the vessels. It can increase the risk of stroke by two to four times. High blood sugar management involves
- Exercise more: Exercise helps lower weight and maintain normal blood pressure. Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five times a week.
- Walk daily for 30 minutes.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take professional guidance on how much and what type of exercise is good for you.
- If you cannot perform exercise for 30 minutes continuously, break it up into several 10- to 15-minute sessions throughout the day.
- Lower cholesterol levels: Too much cholesterol can clog the arteries and lead to heart attack and stroke. Diet, exercise and cholesterol-lowering medications may keep cholesterol levels in check.
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Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke (FAST)Stroke is a serious medical condition. If you think you or someone you know is having a stroke call 911 immediately. There are two main types of strokes, hemorrhagic and ischemic (the most common type). A hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to a blood vessel rupture in the brain. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a blood vessel in the brain, which causes a loss of blood supply to the brain, possibly causing brain tissue death. FAST is an acronym that helps people identify stroke signs and symptoms so they can act fast and call 911. Face drooping, Arm weakness, and Speech difficulty are indicators that a person may be having a stroke and it is Time to seek emergency medical treatment. Additional signs and symptoms of stroke may include weakness, difficulty walking, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, confusion, difficulty speaking, and loss of sensation. Stroke is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S. Early identification and treatment of stroke helps reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality.
Heart Attack vs. Stroke Symptoms, Differences, and Similarities
Heart attack usually is caused by a clot that stops blood flow supplying oxygen to an area of heart muscle, which results in heart muscle death. Stroke or "brain attack" is caused by a loss of blood supply to the brain (usually a blood clot) or by hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding within the brain), which results in brain tissue death. Both heart attack and stroke usually come on suddenly, produce similar symptoms, can be disabling, and can be fatal.
The classic symptoms and warning signs of heart attack are different.
Classic heart attack warning signs are chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, pain that radiates to the shoulders, back, arms, belly, jaw, or teeth, sweating, fainting, and nausea and vomiting. Moreover, woman having a heart attack may have additional symptoms like abdominal pain or discomfort, dizziness, clammy skin, and moderate to severe fatigue.
The classic symptoms and warning signs that a person is having a stroke are confusion or loss of consciousness, sudden severe headache, speech problems, problems seeing out of one or both eyes, and numbness or weakness of only one side of the body. Moreover, a woman having a stroke may have additional warning symptom and signs like shortness of breath, disorientation, agitation, behavioral changes, weakness, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and hiccups.
Recognition of stroke symptoms is vital for emergency treatment. The acronym "FAST" stands for recognition of Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and a Time for action.
If you experience the symptoms heart attack or stroke (FAST) or see them develop in another person, then contact 911 immediately.
How Long Do Carotid Artery Stents Last?Carotid angioplasty and carotid stenting are minimally invasive procedures that widen the openings of the clogged carotid arteries to restore blood flow to the brain. They are often performed to treat or prevent strokes. Once placed, the stent permanently stays inside the artery.
Migraine and StrokeMigraine headache is a type of headache in which the exact cause is not known; however, they may be inherited, and certain foods and environmental factors can trigger and may contribute them. A stroke (brain attack) happens when a blood vessel in the brain leaks, bursts, or becomes blocked, which can be caused by many other health problems. Both migraines and strokes can can cause severe head pain (migraine pain usually is only on one side of the head). Migraine aura symptoms may mimic or feel like a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) because they have similar symptoms and signs like severe headache, numbness in the legs, feet, arms, hands, or face, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Other migraine aura symptoms include vision problems like flashing lights or blind spots in one eye. The main difference between migraine headache and stroke symptoms and signs is that a migraine headaches usually come on gradually while a stroke symptoms come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
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Stroke QuizTake the Stroke Quiz to learn about stroke risks, causes, treatment, and most importantly, prevention.
StrokeA stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Stroke vs Aneurysm (Differences and Similarities)A stroke or "brain attack" is caused because blood flow to an area of the brain has been cut off by a blood clot or by a weakened or damaged blood vessel (for example, head trauma). The damaged area of the brain dies, which results in loss of function like speech capabilities, muscle movement, or muscles of an extremity like an arm or leg is reduced or lost completely. An aneurysm is a weakness in an artery wall. This weakness in the wall causes the artery to widen or balloon out, and then they rupture or break open.
Stroke vs. Mini-Stroke (TIA) DifferencesA stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot or artery ruptures within the brain. The rupture or clot causes brain cell damage or death. A mini-stroke (TIA, transient ischemic attack) is caused by brain cells that dysfunctional over a short period. Stroke and mini-stroke warning signs of stroke and mini stroke are the same, and include, speech problems, weakness, numbness, and facial droop. Side effects of stroke may be permanent and you may never regain full function of the parts of the body affected. Mini-stroke side effects usually resolve within minutes to a couple of days. A transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) is a precursor for stroke because 40% of individuals who have a mini-stroke will have a stroke within a year. Treatment of stroke depends upon the type and parts of the body affected.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke)
When a portion of the brain loses blood supply, through a blood clot or embolus, a transient ischemic attack (TIA, mini-stroke) may occur. If the symptoms do not resolve, a stroke most likely has occurred. Symptoms of TIA include: confusion, weakness, lethargy, and loss of function to one side of the body. Risk factors for TIA include vascular disease, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Treatment depends upon the severity of the TIA, and whether it resolves.
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