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Stroke: Signs, Risk Factors, Prevention and Road to Recovery

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States as well as the the leading cause of disability in adults. It occurs as a result of a blood vessel breaking or a blood clot blocking an artery which interrupts the flow of blood to a part of the brain. As a result, brain cells start to die causing brain damage. However, there are preventive measures that can be taken to prevent a 'strike' of a stroke. In fact, 80% of strokes are said to be preventable!

Signs of a Stroke

[caption id="attachment_4218" align="alignright" width="230"] Stroke[/caption]

There are several warning signs of  stroke. Knowing these signs will be highly beneficial as every passing second weighs down on the survival of the patient. Therefore, when these signs or 'red lights' start sparking up, it is time to call 911 as soon as possible.

  • Sudden onset of numbness or weakness of the arm, leg or face. This can also take place in one side of the body.

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

  • Sudden difficulties in seeing with one or both the eyes.

  • Sudden trouble in walking.

  • Sudden lightheadedness, loss of balance and coordination.

  • Sudden headaches that are severe in nature with unknown cause.

Risk Factors of Stroke

It is important to understand that there are controllable as well as uncontrollable risk factors for stroke. Controllable risk factors, as the name suggests, are 'controllable' which arise due to lifestyle (which can be changed) or medical (which can be treated). They are:-

  • Diabetes

  • High Cholesterol

  • Atrial Fibrillation

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Atherosclerosis

  • Alcohol

  • Obesity

  • Smoking cigarettes and tobacco use

  • Physically inactive

Uncontrollable risk factors, on the other hand, include being male, african american, over 55, having a family history of stroke, etc.

Prevention of a Stroke

There are preventive measures that can be taken to lower  the risk of a first stroke. Moreover, studies have also shown that about 80% of strokes can be prevented. It is very important to manage personal risk of a stroke by working with your doctor to recognize the warning signs and knowing how to to respond to them effectively. Some preventive measures you can take are:-

  • Check your blood pressure

  • Quite smoking and use of tobacco

  • Identify atrial fibrillation

  • Control the use of alcohol

  • Check cholesterol levels

  • Check glucose levels to control diabetes

  • Exercise

  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)- the symptoms of TIA and stroke are the same. Therefore, by treating TIA, you can reduce the risk of a stroke.

 Road to Recovery

Can a person recover from a stroke? It is important to understand that recovery is a life long process where some recover completely after an episode whereas some others have to live with some debility after its occurrence. The time period for recovery is different from one patient to another. Some may recover in a month's time, some others after an year or so and some patients may even take up to ten or twenty years to recover.

Recovery generally depends on the severity of the stroke as well as its type and location. Be armed with information about recovery strategies in order to make it easy for you to move on with your life after a stroke. Recovery for many will involve some sort of rehabilitation which can improve emotional , mental and physical functions.

Do not lose hope! It is crucial for you and for your family to hold on tight and not to lose hope in this road to recovery.