Stroke demands immediate attention

Stroke demands immediate attention

When it comes to surviving a stroke, time is of the essence.

A stroke, also known as a “brain attack,” is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain because of a clot or ruptured blood vessel. Part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and brain cells die.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. On average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. The National Stroke Association urges individuals to act FAST and call 9-1-1 immediately at the first sign of a stroke. Any one of the following signs could indicate a stroke:

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 arm drift downward?

S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T = Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

There are two types of stroke. An ischemic stroke (brain clot) is caused by a clot obstructing blood flow to the brain. It is the most common type of stroke, accounting for approximately 87 percent of all strokes. A hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed) occurs when a blood vessel breaks and prevents blood flow to the brain. While it is less common than an ischemic stroke, it is more deadly.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or “mini stroke,” is caused by a temporary clot and is a serious warning sign of a future stroke. Symptoms of TIAs are the same as stroke. Medical attention should be sought if a person is suspected of having, or has had, a TIA.

According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable. Individuals can reduce their risk of stroke in the following ways:

  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat)
  • Do not smoke
  • If diabetic, control your diabetes
  • Exercise
  • Eat a lower-sodium, lower-fat diet