Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke, but 80 percent of all strokes are preventable. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms and what to do is so important. With May being National Stroke Month, we asked Sadie Wangler, program manager with Renown Institute for Neurosciences, to explain more.
We can prevent strokes by changing our lifestyle behaviors that increase our risk. Knowing the symptoms and being prepared to B.E. F.A.S.T. are key as well. We asked Sadie Wangler, program manager for the Renown Institute for Neurosciences, what everyone person should know about stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke can be caused by a blood clot within an artery in the brain or a blood vessel. The clot can burst due to blockage and this causes blood flow to the brain to be cut off. Without the proper bloodflow and oxygen getting to the brain, the brain’s tissue begins to die.
How to spot symptoms of a stroke?
The easiest thing is to remember the word “B.E.F.A.S.T.”
B – Loss of balance:
Ask the person to walk 5-10 feet, with light assistance, and ask if they felt dizzy or off balance.
E – Double Vision or blurred vision:
Ask the person if their vision has changed in any way.
F – Look for face drooping:
Ask the person to smile and see if one side of their face droops.
A – Arm weakness:
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech difficulty:
Ask the person to repeat something. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T – Time to call 911:
Time matters – so don’t wait to call an ambulance if you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms.
You can also watch for sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on just one side of the body. Look for any confusion — if they’re having trouble speaking or difficulty understanding others talk — and if they have trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or sudden and unexplained severe headache.
The signs of stroke happen suddenly and a lot of people may deny their symptoms, thinking they’re overreacting. But it’s critical to act quickly and get medical attention right away — when it comes to stroke and saving your brain, minutes matter.
What should you do if you think you or someone you love is having a stroke?
In addition to seeking help right away, it’s best to call 911 and get an ambulance. A lot of people make the mistake of driving themselves to the hospital or have someone else drive them, and this can be dangerous for a number of reasons. First of all, it can put you, your loved ones and others on the road in danger. Second, going to the hospital on your own can take more time than calling an ambulance, and when it comes to stroke, every minute of medical care counts. So it’s important to call 911 and get treatment immediately.
What can you do to prevent stroke?
A stroke can happen to anyone, but certain risk factors can increase your risk. There are some risk factors you can’t control: your age, family history, race and gender. Stroke risk is higher for women and people over the age of 55.
Fortunately, there are some risk factors you can control, such as high blood pressure, smoking, artery or heart disease, high cholesterol, as well as obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. A lifestyle focused on healthy diet and regular exercise can greatly reduce your risk for stroke. Quitting smoking and watching your alcohol intake can help too.
The Renown Regional Medical Center has been certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and received the Gold Plus Achievement award by the American Stroke Association. Our Stroke Program provides evidence-based primary stroke care including evaluation, treatment and education to patients who arrive at a Renown facility with the signs and symptoms of stroke. Learn more online.