A stroke is a brain attack caused by a clog in an artery, interrupting blood flow to the brain. There are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes happen when arteries become clogged with blood clots or plaque. Hemorrhagic strokes happens when a blood vessel in the brain breaks, leaking blood into the brain.
Preventing a Stroke
Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. The best way to prevent a stroke is to know the risk factors and how to manage them. The Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute recommends patients work with their doctors to manage controllable risk factors.
- Being over age 55
- Being male
- Being African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander
- Having a family history of stroke
- Having a previous stroke or TIA (mini-stroke)
- Having fibromuscular dysplasia
- Having a hole in the heart
- Having high blood pressure
- Having atrial fibrillation
- Having high cholesterol
- Having diabetes
- Having atherosclerosis
- Having circulation problems
- Using tobacco and smoking
- Drinking alcohol
- Physical inactivity
- Being obese
What You Can Do
- Know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If they are high, work with your physician to reduce or manage them.
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a low-sodium, low-fat diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Find out if you have other health conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, and talk to your physician about how to manage it.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Anyone, at any age, can have a stroke. The National Stroke Association says: Act F.A.S.T. to save a life.
F = Face
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = Arms
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
S = Speech
Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = Time
If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately. If administered with three hours of the first sign, there is a “clot buster” medication that can greatly increase outcomes.