Stroke is a disease that affects the blood vessels leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke).
When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die. About 87 percent of strokes are ischemic.
Stroke risk factors are:
If you suspect a stroke, do not delay calling 911. Do not rest, thinking your condition will improve. Do not drive to the Emergency Room.
Do not go to your doctor’s office. Get an ambulance. Time is critical. Medical treatment is required immediately.
The sooner a person is treated, the better the chances of minimizing the effects of the stroke.
The effects of a stroke depend upon which side of the brain is affected. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body,
so a stroke on the right side of the brain could result in paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems and memory loss.
The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, so a stroke on the left side of the brain could result in paralysis on the right side of the body,
speech and language problems, and memory loss.
Take our 10-question quiz to see your level of stroke awareness.
The most important stroke preventive measure you can take is getting your blood sugar checked and treated.
The answer is False. The most important thing you can do is have your blood pressure – not your blood sugar –
checked and treated. Also quit smoking, and make sure diabetes is treated. But controlling high blood pressure is absolutely
the most important preventive measure.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can eliminate your chances of having a stroke.
The answer is False. You can REDUCE your risk of
having a stroke by getting high blood pressure treated, exercising
and eating healthfully, but you cannot ELIMINATE your risk. About 80 percent of stroke risks can be controlled by
healthy lifestyle habits. But some stroke risks are out of your control – age, gender, race,
and family history of stroke or heart disease.
Strokes are becoming more common in people in their 30s and 40s.
The answer is True. We’re seeing more people in their 30s and
40s having strokes. The rising rates of obesity,
high blood pressure and diabetes in younger people likely contribute to the growing rate of stroke.
It's important to get to the hospital immediately if someone appears to be having a stroke.
The answer is True. A stroke is a serious medical situation. Every minute the patient isn’t being treated provides more opportunity for permanent damage. And there is a clot-busting medication called tPA that can be give to a patient if it is within 3 hours and in some cases, up to 4-1/2 hours from the time the patient was last known to be well. If you suspect a stroke, do not delay calling 911. Do not rest or go back to bed, thinking your condition will improve. Do not drive to the Emergency Room. Do not go to your doctor’s office. Get an ambulance by calling 911.
A sudden, intense headache is one sign of a possible stroke.
The answer is True. A sudden, severe headache could
be a warning sign – but it doesn’t have to be. It could be
something else. Sometimes a warning sign headache could occur over a few hours; it doesn’t have to be sudden.
Other warning signs are sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
sudden confusion; trouble speaking or understanding; trouble walking; dizziness; or loss of coordination.
Atrial fibrillation – a heart condition – is related to stroke.
The answer is True. About 15 percent of women who suffer a stroke have an undetected or untreated
condition called atrial fibrillation (a-fib). This condition causes an irregular heartbeat and allows blood to pool in the heart,
increasing the risk of clotting and stroke.
Using street drugs – such as cocaine or methamphetamine –
increases your chances of having a stroke.
The answer is True. Taking street drugs -- like cocaine and methamphetamines –
does raise your risk of stroke. Besides avoiding illegal drugs, get high blood pressure and cholesterol treated, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking (especially if you are taking oral contraceptives), exercise regularly and drink alcohol only in moderation.
Hemorrhagic stroke is the most common type of stroke.
The answer is False. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, with about 87 percent of strokes being ischemic. Ischemic stroke can happen when a blood vessel gets blocked by a piece of a clot. The other type of stroke -- hemorrhagic -- is when a blood vessel bursts and causes bleeding within the brain.
A stroke on the left side of the brain will most likely cause speech and
The answer is True. The left side of your brain controls speech and
language abilities for most people. The right side of your brain controls spatial and perceptual abilities, short-term memory, behavior and judgment.
It takes a minimum of five years to recover from a stroke.
The answer is False. Most people get the maximum recovery they’re going to get within six months. If you’ve had a severe stroke, some things may never come back. Other things may take several months or a year. The most important thing you can do is get treatment as soon as possible. Remember, time lost could be brain lost.