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Could you be at risk for a stroke?

May 18, 2016

Did you know that...

  • Every 40 seconds, someone suffers a stroke
  • One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the fifth-leading cause of death
  • 800,000 strokes occur in the U.S. alone

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, designed to provide Americans with information and awareness about this important health-related issue. Knowing the warning signs of stroke and taking quick action can mean the difference between life, death and serious injury.

What is a stroke?

Simply put, a stroke is a “brain attack” that occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, blood cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die, causing abilities controlled by that area of the brain – such as muscle control and memory – to be lost.

Different types of strokes

  • Ischemic strokes (clots) – Accounting for 87% of all cases, this type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes (bleeds) – This type of stroke is less common, affecting only 15% of cases, yet is responsible for about 40% of all stroke deaths. It is either a brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak, causing blood to spill into or around the brain, creating swelling and pressure and damage to cells and tissue in the brain.
  • TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack): the “warning stroke”

TIA, or “warning stroke,” is caused when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked by a clot. Symptoms come on quickly and last a relatively short time – the average being about one minute. When it is over, there is usually no permanent brain damage. TIA is a very serious warning sign that a stroke could happen in the future and should not be ignored. In fact, according to the National Stroke Association, nearly half of all strokes occur within the first few days after a TIA.

Stroke risk factors include:

  • Hypertension/high blood pressure (top risk factor)
  • Smoking (top preventable risk factor)
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Inactivity and obesity
  • Previous Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
  • Heart disease
  • Sickle Cell disease
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFIB)

Warning signs

The best acronym to remember when it comes to warning signs of stroke is “F.A.S.T.”

  • F – Face drooping
  • A – Arm weakness
  • S – Speech difficulty
  • T – Time to call 911

“People will sometimes wait to go to the hospital because they want to see if the symptoms will go away on their own,” explained Megan Smith, RN, stroke coordinator at Soin Medical Center.

Even if the symptoms do resolve on their own, they can be a warning sign of a future stroke.

“If treatment is sought, there may be modifiable factors that can be addressed to lower the risk of future stroke. Seeking treatment is always the best option,” said Smith.

Kettering Health Network, named by CareChex as the top stroke care network in Ohio, has convenient emergency department access and stroke treatment throughout the greater Dayton area.

Worried that a stroke could be in YOUR future?  

Click here to find out if you could be at risk of having a stroke.