Strokes are serious health events that can lead to long-lasting consequences or even be fatal. Strokes occur when the blood flow to your brain is disrupted somehow. The lack of blood means oxygen and nutrients aren’t being effectively delivered to your brain cells, and that’s when things go wrong. Here are a couple of important things to learn about strokes and the risks associated with them:
There Are Clear Warning Signs
Some strokes can occur very suddenly, and it can be immediately apparent that you need medical attention if you suddenly start to vomit, lose consciousness,or if you lose your ability to speak. However, many strokes start slow, so you have to be more attentive in identifying the first symptoms.
Depending on where and on what side of the brain the blood flow is being interrupted, you’re likely to see first symptoms associated with weakness on one particular side of the body. The arm and the mouth on that side might begin to droop downward. Common early symptoms generally also include numbness on one side of the body and slurred speech.
Quick Response is Key
Strokes are very dangerous, but are treatable if caught in time. Slowly developing strokes give you a little more time to get help, but the stakes remain high. The quicker you get medical attention, the better the chances of survival you have and the less likely you’ll be to see long-lasting or permanent effects after recovery. Strokes kill someone in the U.S. every 4 minutes, and they are responsible for more long-term disabilities than any other condition.
Symptoms Vary Based on the Type of Stroke
Your brain is a very complex organ, so symptoms and effects of a stroke can vary significantly based on the location. A number of different things can disrupt the blood flow. Most strokes are ischemic, which means they’re caused by a clot that’s blocking the movement of blood. An uncommon and especially dangerous type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which happens when a blood vessel bursts and the blood leaks out into your brain.
Recovery Times Vary Widely
While some patients will eventually be able to fully recover their strength and body control after a stroke, there are a lot of factors that affect potential recovery. Recovery often includes relearning how to do basic physical tasks and reestablishing connections in the brain. Some strokes, however, may leave someone disabled for the rest of their life. A locked-in stroke is a stroke that leads to sustained damage in the brain stem, which can leave a person paralyzed for the rest of their life.
Certain Lifestyle Factors Increase Your Risk
There is no absolute and clear way to prevent strokes, but you can lower your risk of one by staying healthy. Older individuals with high blood pressure and cholesterol are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot that can cause a stroke. Obesity, smoking, and diabetes are also some health conditions linked to an increased risk of stroke.