Every year more than 795,000 people in the US have stroke. A leading cause of death and disability, stroke occurs due to interrupted blood supply to your brain. This reduced blood supply prevents the brain cells from getting sufficient oxygen and leads to their death. 

However, the good news is that strokes can easily be prevented and treated. All you need is right care, expert treatment, and the willingness to follow healthy lifestyle practices. 

In this article, we’ll help you learn more about stroke. Read on to know the potential signs and symptoms of stroke, what puts you at risk, and how you can recognize and prevent a stroke. 

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is also known as a brain attack. It occurs 

  • When a blood clot blocks the supply of blood to part of the brain, or 
  • When a blood vessel in the brain bursts 

Stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention. It is estimated that during stroke, a person may lose up to 2 million brain cells within a minute.  

That’s why, even a few minutes of loss of blood supply to the brain can cause lasting damage to the brain and can lead to long-term disability and even death. 

Factors That Cause Stroke

There are many factors that put you at an increased risk for stroke. These include: 

1. Genetic Factors

Your chances of having a stroke may increase or decrease depending on your: 

  • Age: Though stroke is common among older adults (55 and above), young people are also at risk.
  • Sex: Women are more prone to stroke than men.
  • Ethnicity: Blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, and Alaska Natives are at an increased risk for stroke than others. 
  • Family history: People with a family history of stroke or high blood pressure are at an increased risk.

2. Medical Conditions

Medical conditions that increase your risk for stroke include: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart diseases
  • Sickle cell disease 

3. Lifestyle & Behavior

Various lifestyle choices increase your risk for stroke. These include: 

  • Eating an unhealthy diet that’s rich in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol
  • Obesity or access body weight 
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Smoking, alcohol & substance abuse 

The Warning Signs of Stroke 

Stroke comes with F.A.S.T. warning signs. Knowing them can help you take quick action, seek immediate medical care, and save a life. 

The F.A.S.T. warning signs of stroke include: 

  • Face Drooping (F):  You may experience your mouth drooping to one side, especially when you try to smile. This usually happens on just one side of the body. 
  • Arm Weakness (A): You may experience weakness in one of the arms. Try raising both arms and see if one is drifting downwards. 
  • Speech Difficulty (S): You may experience difficulty in speaking or understanding what others are saying. 
  • Time to Call a Doctor (T): The consequences of stroke can be life-threatening. That’s why, if you or any of your loved ones is experiencing any of the above mentioned signs, make sure to immediately call a doctor. 

Other potential signs and symptoms of stroke include: 

  • Sudden Confusion: During stroke, you experience confusion while listening or talking to others. 
  • Problem Seeing from Both Eyes: You may suddenly have blur or black vision, either in one eye or both eyes. You may also see double. 
  • Trouble Walking: You may lurch and/or lose your balance. People also experience sudden dizziness and loss of coordination. 
  • Paralysis: Stroke causes sudden numbness or paralysis of face, arm, or leg.
  • Headache: Stroke causes sudden, severe headache that’s usually accompanied by dizziness and vomiting. 

Ways to Prevent Stroke

Stroke can easily be prevented through regular health screenings and by adopting healthy lifestyle practices. So, to protect yourself from stroke and its severe consequences: 

  • Schedule a Regular Health Checkup: Annual physicals offer you the easiest way to keep a tab on your health. Through regular screenings and preventive health checks, your doctor can keep your vitals under control. Health checks also allow your physician to detect and treat health conditions that put you at risk of having a stroke. 
  • Control High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. To stay safe, regularly monitor your blood pressure and keep it under control. Healthy lifestyle practices and medications can help.
  • Adopt Healthy Eating Habits: Choose a healthy diet plan that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and healthy fats. Limit your salt intake and avoid foods that are loaded with saturated fat and trans fats. 
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking puts you at risk for stroke. To stay safe, quit tobacco at the earliest and enjoy the ultimate health benefits of smoking cessation. 
  • Manage Your Diabetes: To prevent stroke, it is important to control your diabetes. It can be done through diet, exercise and weight loss. Your doctor may also prescribe diabetes medication to help you keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. 
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Excess body weight contributes to your risks for stroke. So, keep a check on your weight or visit a dietician for expert help. 
  • Exercising regularly: Exercise can help you lose weight and control diabetes and blood pressure. It increases your good cholesterol levels, reduces stress, and improves your overall health. So include at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. You can take up walking, jogging, swimming or cycling to stay healthy.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: Limit your alcohol to not more than one drink a day to prevent blood clots and stroke. 

Strokes are serious and life-threatening. But with regular health checks, scheduled medication, and guided lifestyle practices, they can easily be prevented. 

Visit your EPIC Health provider today for expert health analysis. Our primary care physicians can work with you to detect, prevent, and treat medical conditions and factors that may lead to stroke.

Schedule an appointment at EPIC Health today! We can help you live happy, healthy, and better.