5 stroke warning signs everyone should know


More than 140,000 people die from stroke every year in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of death. It is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the nation.

The good news is that seeking immediate medical attention can minimize long-term effects and even prevent death. In addition, 80 percent of strokes are avoidable.

Learning the signs of stroke as well as ways to decrease your risk could save your life or the life of someone you love.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted. Appropriately, strokes are also called brain attacks. There are three different types of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.

  • Ischemic stroke is the most common type, accounting for 87 percent of all strokes. An ischemic stroke results from an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. There are two types of ischemic strokes: thrombotic, caused by a blood clot within the brain, and embolic, which is caused by a blood clot elsewhere in the body.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a weakened or ruptured blood vessel.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a mini stroke, is caused by a temporary clot. Despite the name, they should be taken seriously.

What Are The Risk Factors?

According to the CDC, your risk of stroke is higher than average if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Previous stroke or mini stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease

Lifestyle behaviors can also increase your risk of having a stroke. An unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption (more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men) and tobacco use can all increase the likelihood of stroke.

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5 Warning Signs Of A Stroke

Several signs or symptoms could indicate a stroke. Anyone experiencing a sudden onset of one or more of the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention:

1. Numbness or weakness

Your face, an arm or a leg may feel numb, weak or appear droopy, particularly if it is only on one side of the body.

2. Speech difficulty

You may experience general confusion, have difficulty speaking or have trouble comprehending what others are saying.

3. Vision problems

Blurred vision that increasingly worsens, a sudden loss of vision or in one or both eyes and pain or pressure in the eye may indicate stroke.

4. Dizziness

You may feel dizzy, experience a loss of balance, have difficulty walking or suddenly have poor coordination.

5. Headache

A severe, unexplained headache can be a symptom of stroke, although they are frequently painless, as well.

The American Stroke Association developed the acronym FAST to help spot signs of stroke.

  • F – Face drooping

  • A – Arm weakness

  • S – Speech difficulty

  • T – Time to call 911

Using the first three letters of the word stroke can help determine whether someone might be having a stroke, as well. Ask the person to Smile (to check for drooping on one side of the face); Talk (to check for difficulty speaking); and Raise both arms (to check for weakness).

Prognosis and Prevention

While the outlook for a stroke victim depends largely on the cause and severity of the stroke, getting help quickly can also make a significant difference in the patient’s prognosis and recovery. Taking steps to prevent a stroke from occurring is the best course of action. Here are six things you can start doing right now.

1. Lower your blood pressure.

Aim for a reading below 135/85.

2. Shed a few pounds.

While an ideal BMI is 25 or less, losing even just 10 pounds can decrease your risk of stroke.

3. Move more.

Try to exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

4. Drink less.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

5. Seek treatment.

Get help tackling health conditions that may contribute to increased risk, such as diabetes and heart disease.

6. Stop smoking.

It’s difficult to do, but could save your life.

Do you know someone who has suffered a stroke?

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About the Author
Tricia Goss
Tricia Goss is a Texas-based writer and editor with nearly two decades of experience. She is passionate about helping readers improve their skills, gain knowledge and attain more happiness in life. When she’s not working, Tricia enjoys traveling with her husband and their dog, especially to visit their five grandchildren.

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