A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain. When part of the brain does not get blood flow due to a blocked or ruptured blood vessel, that part of the brain starts to die.
Stroke is a medical emergency; it is crucial to call 911 if you are experiencing stroke symptoms. Getting fast treatment help minimize brain damage and other stroke complications.
The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not even be aware that he or she has had a stroke.
Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning. They may be episodic (occurring and then stopping) or they may slowly get worse over time.
What to do? Think FAST Exam
- Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile
- Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms
- Speech: Does their speech sound stranger? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, for example "The sky is blue"
- Time: If you observe any of these signs, then it's time to call 911
Stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Call 911 if someone is having stroke symptoms.
Stroke symptoms may include:
- Change in alertness (consciousness)
- Decreased sensation
- Decreased vision
- Difficulty moving any body part
- Difficulty speaking or understanding others
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty writing or reading
- Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough
- Loss of all or part of vision
- Loss of balance
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Movement changes, usually on only one side of the body
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness or tingling
- Occurs when lying flat
- Sensation changes, usually on only one side of the body
- Starts suddenly
- Sudden confusion
- Vision changes
- Wakes you up from sleep
- Weakness of any body part
To help prevent a stroke:
- Avoid fatty foods. Follow a healthy, low-fat diet. Include several daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Adding fish to your diet at least twice a week may be helpful. However, do not eat fried fish.
- Do not drink more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks a day.
- Exercise regularly: 30 minutes a day if you are not overweight; 60 - 90 minutes a day if you are overweight.
- Get your blood pressure checked every 1 - 2 years, especially if high blood pressure runs in your family.
- Have your cholesterol checked. If you are at high risk for stroke, your LDL "bad" cholesterol should be lower than 100 mg/dL. Your doctor may recommend that you try to reduce your LDL cholesterol to 70 mg/dL. Few medications have been found to clear up plaque. Statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs can help prevent more plaque from forming.
- Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease.
- Quit smoking.
Heart disease may be prevented with lifestyle changes including eating a heart healthy diet, getting regular exercise and stopping smoking if you are a smoker. Follow your health care provider's recommendations for treatment and prevention of heart disease.
Know your numbers:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar
- Cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL)