World Stroke Day is October 29. Stroke is the number five cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. This World Stroke Day, educate yourself about stroke so you can take steps to prevent it and know how to recognize it in yourself and your loved ones.
What is a Stroke?
Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. There are two types of stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs blood flow to the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain.
Strokes can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, about one in four people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. However, there are several risk factors that put you at higher risk for having a stroke.
- High Blood Pressure is the number one preventable risk factor for stroke. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to take steps to lower it. Not only will this lower your risk of stroke, it will also help your brain to function better for longer.
- What you eat. A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure. High-calorie diets can lead to obesity. All of these things can increase your risk of stroke. Eat lots of fruits and vegetable and work with your doctor on creating a healthy diet that can help lower your risk of stroke.
- Diabetes more than doubles your risk of stroke. Every two minutes, an adult with diabetes in the U.S. is hospitalized for stroke. If you have diabetes, you should work closely with your doctor to ensure you are properly managing your condition and reducing your risk of stroke.
- High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked or throws a clot, a stroke can occur. Get your cholesterol checked regularly and work with your doctor to make sure it stays under control.
- Smoking damages blood vessels, leading to blockages and stroke. Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heartbeat that causes the hearts upper chambers to quiver rather than beating in an organized, rhythmic way. AFib increase the risk of stroke by five times. The fluttering may cause blood to pool and clot then traveling to the brain. If you have AFib, proper management is the key to lowering your risk of stroke.
- Sleep-related breathing issues may increase stroke risk. Seek medical treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or a similar problem.
Up to 80% of strokes are preventable through changes in lifestyle and proper management of conditions like high blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Not only will these changes help reduce your stroke, they can help reduce your risk of other conditions and help you lead an overall healthier lifestyle. Some lifestyle changes you can make are:
- Managing your blood pressure numbers, aiming to keep them under 130/80. Work with your doctor and stick to the medication and lifestyle plan they created with you.
- Eating vitamin-rick fruits and veggies. This can lower blood pressure and improve brain function.
- Swap salty snacks for almonds or fruits.
- Taking regular walks or introducing other physical activity into your routine. This can help lower blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight both of which reduce your risk of stroke.
- Get good sleep every night. 7-9 hours of sleep each night can improve your brain function.
While it’s important to take all these steps to prevent stroke, it’s still important to understand what stroke looks like so you can recognize it in yourself and others should it ever occur. Knowing the common stroke warning signs and what to do someone is having a stroke can be the difference between recovery and disability. The acronym BE FAST can help you remember these signs:
- B – Balance. Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
- E – Eyes. Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
- F – Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- A – Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S – Speech Difficulty. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- T – Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get hem to the hospital immediately.
Stroke Care at Fisher-Titus
Fisher-Titus is a certified Primary Stroke Center through the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program. This means that we have the ability to stabilize and treat acute stroke patients, provide acute care, and administer tPA and other acute therapies safely and efficiently.
Additionally, Fisher-Titus received the 2020 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s (AHA/ASA) Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus achievement award. We were also recognized as a recipient of the Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Award.