This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
A stroke is a blockage of the blood flow that carries oxygen to the brain. It is a medical emergency because brain cells starved of oxygen die within a few minutes.
Every year, 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer from a stroke. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Be aware of the warning signs of a stroke because once it occurs, it’s critical to get to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible. Here is what you should know…
3 Types of Stroke
Ischemic Strokes: Ischemic strokes, those caused by a blood clot, account for 87 percent of cases. They can occur in two ways:
- A clot occludes a blood vessel in the brain or neck that is narrowed due to an accumulation of plaque.
- A clot forms in another part of the body and travels to the brain, where it plugs up a tiny blood vessel.
Hemorrhagic Strokes: Hemorrhagic strokes are cause by bleeding in the brain, the pressure of which cuts off the blood supply. This event can happen in two ways:
- A weak, bulging spot in the wall of an artery, a disorder known as an aneurism, in the brain ruptures.
- A tangle of malformed blood vessels called an arteriovenous malformation develops.
Transient Ischemic Attacks: Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), also referred to as mini strokes, are a temporary blockage due to a blood clot. They are considered one of the warning signs of a stroke because 40 percent of people who have them will have a major stroke within a year if the condition goes treated.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Strokes typically occur suddenly and manifest some of the following symptoms:
- A headache that may be accompanied by a loss of consciousness
- Loss of speech or impaired ability to understand speech
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Numbness or the inability to move affecting one side of the body
- Difficulty in walking or unexplained falling
The complications of a stroke are ominous. These include paralysis, loss of bladder control, seizures, memory loss and trouble swallowing.
Emergency Treatment for a Stroke
There are ways to help stop a stroke in progress. But if any stroke symptoms or warning signs occur, call 9-1-1 immediately. For an ischemic stroke, a clot-busting medication can be administered within the first four hours from the onset. Following this procedure, surgical emergency treatment may be performed to remove the clot, but it must be done quickly (within the first six hours after the stroke signs appear.)
Stroke Prevention Steps
Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, according to the National Stroke Association. So it’s important to get regular medical checkups.
Obesity, as well as the health conditions it leads to, make a stroke more likely, so make weight management a priority. Engage in 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week. Abstain from smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, as it accelerates clot formation.
Follow the Mediterranean diet, which is comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish, because it is linked to a lower risk. Manage stress and get adequate sleep.
If you have had a stroke or TIA, you may want to consider taking a curcumin supplement. While more research is needed in this area, one study found a drug derived from the spice may help repair the damage caused by the event.
Here’s a quick way to “test” someone you think may be having a stroke. Just remember the acronym F.A.S.T.
Remember the Acronym F.A.S.T.
Face: Ask the person to smile? Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or strange? Do they have trouble repeating you?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.