A stroke strikes someone in America every 45 seconds. When a stroke happens, every second counts. If you see someone having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Acting quickly and getting immediate treatment can save lives and enhance the victim’s chances for a successful recovery.
Strokes don’t just happen to the elderly or obese, either. They can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in America, right behind heart disease and cancer.
A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain is not able to get the blood and oxygen it needs, and it begins to die. Depending on the side of the brain the stroke occurred, effects can include paralysis, vision problems, memory loss, speech or language problems and behavioral issues such as depression.
Warning signs of a stroke include:
Sudden loss of vision in one eye.
Weakness, numbness or heaviness in one arm or leg, or one side of the body.
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
Severe headache followed by sleepiness.
Common risk factors for stroke are lifestyle habits and family history. Most of these risks can be modified, treated or controlled, but some are simply functions of natural processes and cannot be changed.
Stroke risk factors that can’t be changed include:
Age ? stroke risk more than doubles for each decade of life after age 55.
Family history ? your risk is much higher if a parent, grandparent or sibling has had a stroke.
Race ? African Americans are at a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians, partly because they are at higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Gender ? stroke is more common in men than in women. However, women account for more than half of the total stroke deaths. Birth control pill use and pregnancy pose special stroke risks for women.
Stroke risk factors that can be controlled include:
High blood pressure ? this is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke.
High cholesterol ? people with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke.
Smoking cigarettes ? studies have shown that the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways.
Diabetes ? while this is an independent risk factor for stroke, many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are overweight.
Poor diet ? diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels, and too much salt can cause increased blood pressure. Excess calories contribute to obesity, but a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke.
Physical inactivity and obesity ? being inactive increases your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
It’s important to note that risk factors are cumulative. Even eliminating one risk factor can reduce your risk of stroke.
If you or someone you know is having a stroke, you want to know you are going to a facility that can help as quickly as possible. UK HealthCare’s Chandler Hospital has a Certified Primary Stroke Center and a team of specialized physicians and health care providers ready 24 hours a day to assist anyone having a stroke. At UK HealthCare, patients not only have access to the region’s top doctors, but also to the most advanced medical technology.
This special certification program is led by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations. It evaluates stroke care at hospitals based on their compliance with national standards, effective use of primary stroke center recommendations and clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care, and performance measurement and improvement activities.