According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. The majority of these strokes are ischemic strokes, which occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. Strokes are serious and can result in lasting brain damage, leading to speech problems, vision issues, memory loss, decreased bodily functions, and even comas. However, experts emphasize the importance of seeking immediate medical attention in order to increase the likelihood of avoiding these complications.
Recognizing the signs of a stroke quickly is crucial. Doctors suggest using the BE FAST acronym to monitor oneself for stroke symptoms. This acronym stands for:
– Balance: being unable to balance or experiencing balance changes
– Eyesight: vision changes including blurriness, double vision, or the inability to see
– Facial droop: drooping of the face or an uneven smile
– Arm weakness: weakness of the arm on one side of the body
– Speech changes: gibberish or word slurring
– Time: it’s time to call emergency services
It’s important to note that the “t” in time can also stand for “terrible headache.” Seeking immediate care is essential, and individuals should not wait for their next doctor’s appointment. Instead, they should call 911.
In addition to recognizing the signs of a stroke, it is crucial to be aware of the risk factors associated with stroke. Certain individuals are more likely to experience a stroke, including those over the age of 55, individuals with diabetes, and people with sleep apnea, among others. However, there are factors that can be controlled to decrease the risk of stroke. These include reducing smoking, controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol, limiting alcohol and drug use, and increasing physical activity. The American Stroke Association also recommends following a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
While some risk factors are beyond an individual’s control, such as age, gender, race, and history of stroke or heart attack, it is important to discuss personal stroke risk with a healthcare professional and monitor oneself for the BE FAST symptoms if any of these risk factors apply.
In conclusion, stroke is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. By recognizing the signs of a stroke and understanding the risk factors, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their risk and improve their chances of a positive outcome.