Are You at Risk of Stroke?
High cholesterol levels in the blood increases the risk of plaques formation (fatty deposits. Arteries become narrow due to fatty acid deposits. This process of narrowing down of arteries continue over a period of time and suddenly the arteries completely get blocked. When this happens the blood supply to the brain gets interrupted and stroke occurs. Individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and excessive body weight are prone to stroke.
A stroke occurs due to blocked blood vessels owing to the formation of blood clots or plaque formation in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This type of stroke is known as ischemic stroke. This is one of the most common types of stroke. The other type of stroke is the one in which blood vessels bursts and bleeds inside the brain. This type of stroke is known as Haemorrhagic stroke. Sometimes, a stroke may occur due to temporary interruption in the supply of blood to the brain by blood vessels. This type of stroke is known as Trans Ischemic Attack (TIA). The duration of this type of stroke is about 30 minutes or more or even for several hours. TIAs can occur once or twice and may also increase the potential risk of future full-blown stroke if not addressed promptly in the beginning itself.
Stroke should be taken seriously as the risk associated with stroke is very high. Stroke when occurs have lasting effects on the health. Brain injury, permanent disability and the risk of sudden death is very high with stroke. Therefore, to prevent long-lasting implications, a better understanding of the stroke, its symptoms and potential consequences is a must. In addition, one must learn how to act swiftly when a stroke strikes suddenly. The sooner a person acts the better.
High Risk Factors
No one can change the genetic, hereditary or the risk factors strongly associated with a strong family history. Therefore, individuals who are genetically predisposed are at risk or individuals with a strong family history of stroke are at risk. In addition, lifestyle of a person including his eating, personal and social habits too have the bearing. Migraines in women, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, mood swings, depression, high blood pressure, menstrual issues, hormonal changes, gestational diabetes, usage of oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of stroke in women. Owing to the preceding risk factors women are at increased risk for stroke than men. High blood pressure, stress and sedentary lifestyle cause hemorrhagic stroke – which is quite threatening.
The risk factors for stroke that are common to both women and men include high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, overweight or obesity, heart disease, high lipid levels, high glycerides levels, alcohol abuse, sedentary lifestyle, drug abuse and smoking.
The warning signs of stroke
Sudden severe headache, confusion, dizziness, trouble seeing, blurred vision, speech disturbances – slurred speech, uneven smile, trouble understanding or speaking, drooping face, loss of balance, dizziness, sudden weakness or numbness in one side of the body or one arm or one leg or face; trouble walking and coordinating are the typical warning signs of stroke.
The stroke symptoms that are unique to women include nausea, vomiting, body pain, fainting, weakness, seizures, hiccups, agitation, behavioral changes, shortness of breath, hallucinations.
FAST test for the Identification of Stroke
Anyone can quickly know the symptoms of stroke if they are quick enough to identify FAST. It is a test that helps quickly identify the most prominent stroke symptoms quite diligently. Let us understand FAST.
Face: Face droops one side or smile becomes uneven.
Arms: One or both the arms become weak (it becomes quite difficult to hold the arms up)
Speech: Speech becomes slurred
Time: Take action immediately, if all the above symptoms are yes
Your quick action is a key to successful treatment
Diagnosis of Stroke
A neurologist physically and clinically examines the patient based on the signs and symptoms and the previous medical history – and if suspects anything unusual, then recommends computerized tomography or MRI scans. But the diagnostic tests and scanning tests depend on the symptoms and severity of the condition.
If the neurologist confirms diagnosis and finds the patient at a risk of developing stroke, he/ she will prescribe medicines that help prevent or remove blood clots or reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Sometimes, surgery may be required to treat brain swelling and bleeding.
Prevention is better than cure
Whether you have a strong family history of stroke or you are genetically predisposed to stroke, you can still prevent stroke from occurring by making slight changes in your lifestyle. As a prominent first measure, you can keep a check on your weight – to ensure this make a routine exercise schedule and stick to it; next, ensure that your blood pressure is under control – and the third important measure is keeping a check on your cholesterol levels as well. The next important aspect is your emotional and psychological health – to ensure it do some physical activity like walking, cycling and playing and also do some creative and recreational activities as well. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. If you smoke or take alcohol, then quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake. If you have any preexisting health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or if you have had Trans Ischemic attacks (TIA) in the immediate past, you should take extra precautions because you could be at an increased risk of full-blown stroke in the future.