signs of stroke

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Please join The Elliot Stroke Program in spreading knowledge about stroke prevention, recognition, and treatment. You may save a life!

Stroke Facts from the American Heart Association (AHA):

•    Stroke is the number five cause of death and is a leading cause of disability in the United States.
•    Ischemic strokes (caused by clots that block arteries) account for 87% of all strokes.
•    Time is brain! 1.9 million neurons are lost each minute without treatment.
•    80% of strokes are preventable.  Modifying factors like controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet can greatly reduce the risk for stroke.
•    Early recognition and quick emergency response are crucial to decreasing injury to the brain.

causes of strokeWhat Causes a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or ruptured blood vessel. In either case, parts of the brain may become damaged from a lack of oxygen. Without oxygen, brain cells die. The body part or system controlled by the damaged brain region will not function as it should. This may result in disability or death.
While strokes are difficult to predict, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Tips to Prevent Stroke

1.    Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, and often there are no symptoms when it is elevated. There are many easy-to-use devices on the market to check your blood pressure at home. The American Heart Association offers helpful monitoring tips.
2.    Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. The nicotine in cigarette smoke can raise blood pressure, and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.
3.    Control cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in your blood can stiffen arteries, making it hard for blood to flow. High cholesterol can also increase the chances of blood clots. Work with your provider to learn and review your cholesterol levels.
4.    Reduce risk for diabetes, a contributor to stroke. High glucose levels can damage blood vessels and more than double the risk for stroke. As with stroke, diabetes can be avoided or managed with healthy lifestyle changes such as weight control, eating a healthy diet, and exercising.
5.    Exercise and eat a healthy diet.  Physical inactivity can increase your risk of stroke and other chronic and life-threatening conditions. Set a goal for being active at least 300 minutes each week. Eat a diet low in saturated and trans fats, reduce sodium intake, and aim for whole grains and generous portions of fresh fruits and vegetables with meals.
6.    Talk to your health care provider.  Ask if you are at risk for stroke. Together, you can identify strategies to improve your health and reduce risk through lifestyle changes and other treatment options, such as medications to control blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.

What to Do in Case of Stroke

The impacts of stroke can be minimized if you know the signs and symptoms and act quickly. When someone has a stroke, time is brain!  If you think someone may be having a stroke, BE FAST and complete this simple test:
BEFAST Signs of Stroke
It’s important to note the time when symptoms of stroke first appear. This will help health care providers determine the best treatment. Call 9-1-1 immediately so medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency department.