Stroke: Learn to Recognize One Because Time Is of the Essense

A stroke is a situation where there is poor blood circulation to parts of the brain. This can occur because an artery feeding the brain with blood and oxygen is either blocked or has ruptured (aneurysm) resulting in blood not getting through to the needed area.

Causes of a Stroke

The causes of a stroke, also called Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) can occur because of a blood clot, a ruptured artery in the brain, head injury, or tumor. As a result, the area of the brain that is not receiving oxygen will begin to die. The severity of the stroke will depend on which area of the brain is affected and the size of the area that is affected.

Risk Factors

The things we do or don't do throughout our lives can influence our chance of developing heart disease and having a stroke. Modifiable risk factors that affect a person's chance of having a stroke are the ones that you have control over. They include diet (especially fat intake), cholesterol levels, smoking, level of exercise, obesity, and high blood pressure (or hypertension). Non-modifiable risk factors are the ones you can't control. This includes: genetics, diabetes (although you can still maintain a healthy lifestyle), age, and gender.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

  • Sudden severe headache.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities.
  • Numbness or paralysis on one side of the body.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Trouble talking and understanding.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Confused or irregular behavior.
  • Unconsciousness.

Unfortunately, brain damage is permanent as the human body does not have the ability to produce more brain cells. A stroke is a serious medical condition which kills many of its victims or leaves them disabled after the fact. If you think you, or someone else, are having a stroke, even if the warning signs go away, seek medical help.

First Aid for a Stroke

If you believe someone is having a stroke, you should;

  • Immediately call 9-1-1.
  • Make the person comfortable (e.g. lay them on their side).
  • Keep them warm.
  • Do not give them any food or drinks.
  • If they become unconscious, and you are trained, begin rescue breathing and/or CPR.
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