American Stroke Awareness Month: Stroke Prevention, Signs and Symptoms

May is American Stroke Awareness Month. During a stroke, every minute counts! Treating the patient quickly can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke allows you to take quick action and possibly save a life — maybe even your own.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a disruption of blood flow to a part of the brain. This causes it to stop working properly and damages brain cells. A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Symptoms typically occur suddenly but will vary depending on the part of the brain that is affected.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Typically, signs and symptoms of stroke occur suddenly. Depending on what area of the brain is affected, the type of symptoms experienced will vary. The areas of the brain that control function on one side of the body are usually located in the opposite side of the brain. As a result, lack of blood to one side of the brain can often cause the signs and symptoms on the opposite side of the body. Common initial symptoms of stroke include:

  • Severe headache
  • Impairment or loss of function
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Poor balance and dizziness
  • Sudden numbness, paralysis or weakness of an arm, leg or side of the face
  • Slurred or abnormal speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Incontinence

A stroke can result in permanent loss of function. The type and degree of this loss of function is dependent on which area of the brain has been affected and the speed and success of treatment given. The permanent effects of a stroke can include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Difficulty understanding or forming speech
  • Severe weakness or paralysis of the affected side (hemiplegia)
  • Numbness, strange sensations or pain – sometimes made worse by movement or temperature change
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Depression
  • Emotional problems, such as difficulty controlling emotions or expressing inappropriate emotions

Stroke may also result in issues with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgement and memory.

Stroke Prevention

Reducing the number of controllable risk factors is the best way to prevent a stroke from occurring. This can include:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Eating a balanced diet low in sodium and saturated and trans fat
  • Moderating alcohol intake (no more than 2 small drinks per day)
  • Exercising regularly to stay physically fit
  • Maintaining good control of existing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol

 

Anyone with signs and symptoms of a stroke should seek emergency medical attention immediately at the nearest Emergency Department, as time is of the utmost importance when treating a stroke victim. Don’t hesitate to contact us here at Brashear Family Medical Center with the link below for more information!

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