Did you know that a stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the US and takes a life every four minutes? As common and fatal as strokes are, it’s crucial to understand what a stroke is, what the warning signs are and what to do if one occurs. In honor of Stroke Awareness Month, we interviewed Dr. Love Anani to get answers to seven essential questions regarding stroke awareness.
What is a stroke and who is at risk?
“A stroke is a disease of the brain that occurs due to lack of blood flow. Depending on the location of the stroke you can get various symptoms. A stroke can, unfortunately, happen at any age but is of more serious risk starting about 35.” While strokes are something to be more aware of in people of older age, Dr. Anani recommends keeping an eye out for symptoms throughout your life.
What are the warning signs of a stroke?
“The best warning signs to look for, follow the F.A.S.T acronym,” according to Dr. Anani. F.A.S.T. describes the following: “Is the FACE drooping? Is there any ARM (or leg) weakness? Is there any SPEECH difficulty? Then it’s TIME to call 911. You can also add the word BE in front of FACE to look out for BALANCE and change of EYE sight/vision.”
If you notice any of these symptoms, please immediately seek emergency medical attention.
What are the treatment options for stroke patients?
“The treatment options for a stroke really depends on the type of stroke. The most common type of stroke is Ischemic, which occurs due to lack of blood flow. There are three treatments for this: TPA (which is a clot buster), clot retrieval (which is a procedure), and doing nothing (some strokes are minor, and doing nothing is best). For Hemorrhagic strokes, which are due to bleeding inside the skull, the best treatment is mostly surgical, but sometimes doing nothing is also recommended, if small enough.”
How can you reduce your risk of a stroke?
“The best way to reduce the risk of a stroke is to keep the blood flow to the brain open and clear. So eating well, exercise, limiting elevated cholesterol, and other lifestyle modifications will accomplish this over time.”
While it is hard to eliminate the risk of a stroke, these modifications will certainly help keep you healthy and increase longevity.
What happens in the body when you have a stroke?
While learning what the signs and symptoms of a stroke are is essential, it’s also important to understand what happens to your body during a stroke. Dr. Anani describes the process, explaining “when you have a stroke the blood flow to the brain and certain neurons essentially die and unfortunately do not regain function. So whatever function that part of the brain controls is now dead and that part of the body remains weak. So if the stroke happens in a speech center of the brain, there can be prolonged changes to the way the patient speaks for the rest of their life.”
Why is it important to get to the hospital as quickly as possible?
“It is important to get to the hospital for one reason: time is brain. For every second a part of the brain doesn’t get oxygen, it dies and will never regain function. Unfortunately, the lack of oxygen can sometimes spread. So the faster you get treatments the better, and more limited, the future deficits will be.”
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering a stroke, make sure to seek immediate medical attention by dialing 911 or by visiting your closest Emergency Room.
What are some potential long-term effects of a stroke?
With the increased risk of a stroke as you age, it is wise to prepare yourself and your family for the potential long-term effects. Dr. Anani says, “long-term effects of a stroke can include, slurred speech, extremity weakness, prolonged numbness, difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, and essentially loss of any function of your body.” While not every stroke victim suffers from every potential effect, many stroke patients do suffer from one or more of them.
NorthCrest Medical Center is proud to showcase our Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center in recognition by The Joint Commission in conjunction with the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Visit our Emergency Services page to learn more about our stroke and heart attack care services.