Take care of your risk factors and make sure loved ones are educated about the risks of stroke and controlling or reducing their own risk factors. Prevention is important, but early recognition and treatment of stroke can help minimize the damage to the brain and save lives.

What is a Stroke?
Stroke or “brain attack” is a medical problem that affects many men and women. It is the number three killer in South Carolina and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States.

Strokes are caused by problems with the circulation of blood flow in the brain. This can result either from a hemorrhage when a blood vessel bursts or from a blockage when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.  Stroke: Know the Symptoms, Act Fast

There are ways to treat stroke successful, but you need to recognize the symptoms and quickly get to a hospital with expert stroke care.

When it comes to stroke, know the warning signs!

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headaches with no known cause

Act fast in an emergency:

  • Don’t ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away.
  • Check the time.  When did the first symptoms start?  You’ll be asked this question later.
  • If you have one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don’t delay.  Call 911 so an ambulance can be sent for you.
  • If you’re with someone who may be having stroke symptoms, immediately call 911.  Expect the person to protest.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.  Take action.

What are the risks factors of stroke? 

  • Elevated blood pressure, hypertension
  • Smoking tobacco
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Diabetes

These risk factors are found in men and women equally.

How to Prevent Stroke

Control Hypertension with Effective Treatment
This involves lifestyle modifications, dietary changes and careful follow up with a physician to be on appropriate medication. Many who have high blood pressure are unaware that they have it. Hypertension is the greatest risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.

Quit Smoking
Those who have never smoked shouldn’t start. Don’t allow smokers to smoke inside your house.

A sedentary lifestyle is associated with higher stress, increased obesity and decreased cardiovascular fitness. The treatment is to start getting active. Walking is a wonderful exercise that should be included in every family’s schedule. It is the simplest exercise to start and the one exercise people are least likely to quit.

Reduce Your Cholesterol
This can be modified by healthy eating habits and avoiding saturated fats. Medical therapy may be necessary for treatment of significant elevated cholesterol.

Manage Stress
Stress alone can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. All stress can’t be avoided but it can be managed. That is, avoid stressful situations when they are unproductive and unfruitful. Learn to recognize stress and take the appropriate steps to alleviate it, whether that is talking it out with friends or doing some slow regular meditative breathing to blunt the effects of stress.

The favored treatment option for a blocked carotid artery is the surgical removal of the plaque known as carotid endarterectomy. With endarterectomy, the chance of the artery becoming blocked again is minimal; the risk for stroke is less.