Stroke is one of the top 3 killers worldwide, and is considered a medical emergency. You should seek immediate medical attention once you experienced any symptoms of a stroke, else risk brain injury that can cause paralysis or long term disability. As doctors said, "Time lost is brain lost". Early treatment is crucial when dealing with stroke.
Symptoms of Stroke
- Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, typically on one side of the body
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes, such as double vision, blurring, dimness, or even loss of sight
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden sunset of confusion, having trouble speaking, understanding or walking
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Suffers severe headache suddenly, with no known cause
The symptoms experienced by one can vary, depending on whether the stroke is caused by a blood clot or bleeding.
The rate and intensity of such symptoms also depends on the severity of the condition. A large blood clot will cause
symptoms to appear within seconds, whereas a narrowed artery will take minutes, hours, or maybe even days to appear.
Know your risk factors
Stroke risk factors are characteristics, behaviors or lifestyle habits that can increase your chance of getting a stroke. By understanding the risk factors involved, you can change and improve your lifestyle to reduce the risk. These risk factors are controllable. Other risk factors that are heredity or part of the natural process can not be improved or controlled. Such risk factors are uncontrollable.
Controllable Risk Factors
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor and estimates to be accountable for 70% of stroke cases. Your heart pumps harder than it should, putting strain on your circulatory system. A person with untreated hypertension is 4 times more likely to get stroke than a healthy person.
- Diabetes mellitus and heart disease
People suffering from diabetes usually have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. These conditions can lead to stroke and it is no wonder that 2 in 3 people with diabetes die from stroke or heart disease. Coronary heart disease, heart valve disease and some congenital heart defects are also known risk factors.
- Artery disease
The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain, and when clogged by plaque or blood clot, will lead to stroke. This condition is knwon as carotid artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to limb muscles. This disease can lead to carotid artery disease.
- Atrial fibrillation
People with chronic or frequent atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of stroke. This is a heart rhythm disorder wherey the heart upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively. The blood pools and flow is disrupted, forming blood clots. When a clot enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.
- Sickle cell disease
A genetic or inherited blood disorder where the hemoglobin (carries oxygen in red blood cells) is slightly abnormal. This can restrict blood flow by blocking small blood vessels. Only more severe forms of this disease are associated with stroke.
- High blood cholesterol
High blood cholesterol can lead to a build up of plaque in the artery walls and narrow your arteries. have an increased risk for stroke. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are bad cholesterol and are responsible for clotting arteries. Excess amounts of LDL can lead to stroke.
- Poor eating habits
Saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise your bad cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor itself. You may want to read
- Smoking cigarette
Smoking damages our cardiovascular system, increases blood pressure and damage blood vessel walls. It has also been found to cause fatty deposits in your arms. Using oral contraceptives combined with smoking can greatly increase the risk.
- Physical inactivity and obesity
It is well known that physical inactivity can lead to obesity. The impact of obesity on stroke is significant. Studies have shown that for every 1 point increase in your BMI, your risk of getting stroke increases by 3%. Conditions associated with this risk factor are: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
Stroke is common among the elderly, with the risk doubling for each decade of life after 55 years old. 72% of stroke victims are aged 65 and above in 2002.
If your immediate family (parent, grandparent or sibling) had suffered from stroke, you have a higher risk
Stroke is more common in men (57%) than in women (43%). However, a higher percentage (62%) of stroke death are women. The use of birth control pills and pregnancy are additional stroke risks women faced.
- Prior stroke, mini stroke (TIA) or heart attack
IF you had a prior stroke or heart attack, your risk is many times more than a normal person. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) is a condition that exhibits stroke-like symptoms with no lasting damage. A person with TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and gender who has not.