What is a stroke?
Most strokes – also called strokes, are caused by a blockage in an artery that carries blood to the brain. This can cause some brain damage and you may lose control of a function that is controlled by that part of the brain. For example, you could lose the use of an arm or leg, or the ability to speak. The damage can be temporary or permanent, partial or complete. Doctors have found that if you get treatment right away after symptoms begin, there is a better chance of getting the blood moving to your brain, and less likelihood of injury.
What if I’m having a stroke?
If you have any of the following symptoms, call for help immediately emergency. The sooner you get help, the more so the doctors can do to prevent damage.
Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.
Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
Loss of speech, difficulty talking or understanding what others are saying.
Severe headache and sudden without any known cause.
Unexplained dizziness, unstable walking or falling, especially in conjunction with any other symptoms.
Another warning sign of stroke called a transient ischemic attack or TIA also known as “mini-stroke”. A TIA can cause the symptoms listed above and may only last a few minutes but should not be ignored. People who have a TIA are at increased risk of stroke later. Call your doctor immediately if you think you are having a TIA.
Risk factors for stroke
- Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Transient ischemic attack, TIA
- Heart disease
- Artery disease Carotid artery that carries blood to the brain.
How I can avoid having a stroke?
Talk to your family doctor about your risk factors for stroke (see table below) and how to reduce your risk. Here are a few things you can do to avoid having a stroke:
If your blood pressure is high, follow your doctor’s advice to control it.
Avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol and eat less sodium (salt) to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you have diabetes, keep your level of blood sugar under control.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Quit smoking. If you do not smoke do not start smoking.
Ask your doctor about how to make these changes in your lifestyle, and ask for support from friends and family. Regular checkups are important for problems that may increase your risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor about whether taking aspirin in low doses may help reduce your risk of stroke or TIA. Aspirin can help prevent your blood from forming clots that can eventually block arteries.