Sometimes referred to as brain attacks, strokes occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients. When this happens, the brain does not get the blood it needs, and brain cells die. If someone experiences a stroke and does not receive the proper medical care, it could cause permanent brain damage or worse.
According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. And with May being stroke awareness month, it’s the perfect time for a refresher on who is at risk, the types of strokes, warning signs and symptoms, and actions to take should you or your loved one experience a stroke.
Who is at risk for a stroke?
Everyone is at risk for a stroke; however, certain lifestyle factors can increase the likelihood of having one. You are at high risk for having a stroke if you:
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Drink heavily
- Eat a diet high in sodium and fat
- Don’t exercise
Having a stroke previously or having a family history also puts you at risk.
Eighty percent of strokes are preventable by leading a healthy lifestyle. This includes maintaining a proper weight, eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of exercises, not smoking, and keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar in check.
What are the different types of strokes?
There are five main types of strokes:
- Ischemic – These are the most common types of strokes and happen when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. You are prone to an ischemic stroke if you have atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
- Hemorrhagic – These types of strokes happen when someone has a brain bleed, and the bleeding damages nearby brain cells.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – Sometimes referred to as mini-strokes, TIAs result from a temporary blockage in the blood flow to the brain. The symptoms only last for a few minutes.
- Brain stem stroke – As the name implies, this type of stroke impacts the brain stem or the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord. When someone has a brain stem stroke, it affects both sides of their body.
- Cryptogenic stroke – A cryptogenic stroke does not have a known cause. Cryptogenic strokes account for approximately 175,000 strokes annually in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association.
All five types of strokes interrupt blood flow to the brain and require immediate medical attention.
What are the warning signs of strokes?
A helpful acronym when it comes to spotting stroke signs and symptoms in yourself or others is F-A-S-T.
- Face drooping: A hallmark sign of someone having a stroke is their face drooping. Ask the individual if they can smile. If one side of their face droops, they may be having a stroke.
- Arm weakness: Another sign of a stroke is arm weakness. One arm may feel numb or weak. If you ask someone to raise their arms, one arm may drift downward if they are having a stroke.
- Speech difficulty: Someone experiencing a stroke will have slurred speech and will be challenging to understand.
- Time to call 9-1-1: If you or a loved one has any of these signs, you need to get help as soon as possible, even if the symptoms go away.
Other stroke symptoms (depending on the type of stroke the person is having) include:
- Dizziness, loss of balance, or difficulty walking
- Vision loss or double vision
- Severe headaches
- Sensitivity to light
What are the long-term effects of having a stroke?
Time is of the essence when you or a loved one experiences a stroke. The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the more damage there will be. If you don’t receive medical care quickly, you may develop some life-altering severe complications, including:
- Fluid buildup, swelling, and bleeding in the brain
- Problems with memory and understanding
- Heart issues
- Swallowing problems and difficulty eating and drinking
- Permanent neurological disability
How is a stroke treated?
Depending on the type of stroke you or your loved one has experienced, there are several treatment options, including giving the stroke patient aspirin. Taking aspirin can prevent blood clots and reduce the chances of additional strokes. Tissue plasminogen activator or alteplase is another powerful drug used to dissolve blood clots and is often given within five hours after symptoms have begun. Other treatments are more invasive, including removing clots using a catheter or surgically repairing them.
Community First ER is here for you
When your child needs us, Community First ER will be here. With our 24-hour pediatric service available, we will evaluate your child right away and determine how best to proceed. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are accepted. You will experience little to no wait times and will receive personalized, compassionate concierge service each time. Our board-certified physicians and registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our staff has access to CT scans, ultrasound, and X-ray machines, so we can quickly diagnose and treat your child’s condition.
Should your child need to transfer to a local hospital, we will make arrangements to transfer them via our ambulance or helipad services.
About Community First ER
Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust; we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first. For more information, visit our website at https://communityfirster.com/ and engage with us on social media:
Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first.
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