Stroke & TIA

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs by one of two mechanisms: either a part of the brain dies from lack of blood, usually because one of the arteries that supply oxygen-carrying blood to the brain has been blocked or damaged, or alternatively, a blood vessel in the brain bursts and the resultant hemorrhage disrupts the brain. As a result of the loss of blood supply, the area of the brain supplied by that artery dies. The actual signs of the stroke are dependent upon the actual blood vessel that is affected. Some common signs of stroke include: weakness or numbness of one side of the body, inability to speak or understand what others are saying, slurred speech, vision disturbance (usually in one eye), headache (usually with hemorrhagic stroke, described as the "worst headache of my life"), and dizziness or vertigo (a sensation of spinning).

Signs & Symptoms

Knowing stroke's symptoms and acting fast can make the difference for you or a loved one. Stroke is a medical emergency. If you think you or a person with you is having a stroke, immediately call 911 for an ambulance to transport you to the Emergency Department at one of our Stroke Centers. Do not wait to see if symptoms go away.

If these symptoms occur, call 911 immediately:

  • Sudden weakness, numbness or paralysis of the arm, leg, face or side of the body.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes or double vision.
  • Sudden fall, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden intense or unexplained headache.
  • Trouble talking or understanding speech or loss of memory.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to identify a possible stroke:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentance. Can he/she correctly repeat the sentance? Does the speech sound garbled or slurred?
  • Time: If the answer to any of the above is yes, call 911 immediately to get the person to the emergency room quickly. Lost time is lost brain cells.

Risk Factors

Stroke risk factors are divided into two categories. Even if you have several uncontrollable risk factors, it is important that you address the ones that you can change or eliminate to decrease your risk for stroke.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Personal history of stroke
  • Family history of stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation

Controllable Risk Factors

  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypercholesterolemia (High Cholesterol)
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake

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