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8 Facts About Strokes

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and learning about strokes, as well as their risk factors, symptoms, and recovery, is useful for anyone with loved ones who may be at risk. It’s especially important for those caring for elderly family members or those who may be at increased risk.

What Is a Stroke?

Strokes are caused when there’s a blockage preventing blood supply from getting to the brain, or by a burst blood vessel in the brain itself. When that happens, parts of the brain become damaged, sometimes permanently, leading to long-term health issues.

Stroke Facts

Increasing your stroke awareness will help you recognize the signs of a stroke and act quickly if you suspect you or a loved one has experienced it.

  1. Strokes happen every 40 seconds in the US.

Stroke is one of the most common causes of long-term disability, and nearly 800,000 people per year have a stroke in the United States.

  1. Risk factors for strokes include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and sickle cell disease.

Lifestyle choices can also increase the risk of stroke. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and eating a diet that’s high in trans and saturated fats can all contribute to stroke risk.

  1. Stroke risk varies by age and ethnicity.

While a stroke can happen to anyone, stroke risk is almost twice as high for Black adults as it is for White adults. Stroke risk increases with age, with over 60% of those hospitalized for stroke being over age 65.

  1. There are different types of stroke.

Ischemic stroke is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel rupture in the brain. A third type, known as a “warning stroke,” occurs when there’s a temporary blockage to the brain.

  1. There are five common symptoms of a stroke.

Any one of these stroke symptoms should prompt an immediate call to 9-1-1:

  • Face, arm, or leg numbness, especially if it only happens on one side of the body.
  • Dizziness and sudden loss of balance and coordination.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding what someone is saying.
  • Severe unexplained headache.
  • Sudden vision trouble in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden "thunderclap" headache followed by nausuea and vomiting.
  1. FAST action is essential.

Remember the acronym FAST to determine if someone is experiencing a stroke:

  • F: Face. See if one side of the face droops or sags when you ask the person to smile.
  • A: Arms. Ask the person to raise their arms and note whether one moves lower than the other.
  • S: Speech. Listen to the person talk to see if their speech is garbled or slurred.
  • T: Time. Time is of the essence. If you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to call an ambulance.
  1. Stroke recovery can come with long-term challenges.

In some cases, stroke can cause long-term brain damage. This damage can also lead to long-term physical disability. Recovery time varies and can take anywhere from weeks to years, depending on the severity of the stroke and the underlying causes that led to it. A person recovering from a stroke might also experience cognitive or physical deficits, or a combination of the two. Some of these deficits include::

  • Trouble controlling or expressing emotions
  • Speech issues
  • Trouble thinking and focusing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness
  • Bladder or bowel control difficulties
  • Weakness or paralysis on one or both sides of their body
  1. Preventing strokes is key to longevity and quality of life.

While certain strokes, such as hemorraghic strokes, are unpreventable, many strokes can be prevented by monitoring and improving overall health. Taking preventative action, such as staying at a healthy weight, eating a diet high in plants and low in fat and salt, and getting regular exercise can go a long way toward preventing stroke. It’s also essential to get any medical conditions under control, especially:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease

Count on Homewatch CareGivers to Help with Stroke Recovery

If you or a loved one are recovering from a stroke, you don’t have to handle it alone. The caregivers at Homewatch CareGivers provide professional, compassionate after-hospital care. Find a location near you or call 888-404-5191 today.

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