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Warning Signs Of Stroke

Warning signs of a stroke may occur many months before the real event and should be a sign that preventive medical intervention is warranted. But strokes happen quickly; it's a sudden event.

There are two major types of stroke with slightly different warning signs.

  1. The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke. This is where a blockage results in a loss of blood supply to a part of the brain.

    Some ischemic strokes are preceded by stroke-like symptoms, called transient ischemic attacks (TIA). These may occur months before the stroke and lasts only a few minutes. Even if it goes away quickly it's very important to see a doctor or get to a hospital quickly because this is a warning sign that you could have a more severe stroke in the near future. You should therefore aim to get medical treatment within a couple hours of the onset of the symptoms.

    Some of the more common warning signs of a mini-stroke (TIA) would include:

    • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body. Symptoms usually occur on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain where the clot occurred. For example, a stroke in the right side of the brain affects the left side of the body.
    • Difficulty with speech; either your speech is slurred or you're unable to speak normally.
    • Someone who becomes suddenly confused could be having a stroke.
    • Difficulty walking; where you may have a minor weakness or a minor numbness that prevents you from maintaining your normal balance.
    • Someone who becomes suddenly confused could be having a stroke.
    • Some persons may lose vision in one or both eyes or partial loss of vision in both eyes as a warning sign of stroke.
    • Those people who have a severe headache, the worst headache of their lives; those are people that you really have to watch.

  2. About 20 percent of all strokes are caused by hemorrhage. In these hemorrhagic strokes, bleeding into the brain itself does damage to the brain.

    Hemorrhagic strokes usually occur during the daytime and during physical activity. Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke typically begin very suddenly and evolve over several hours.

    People with very high, uncontrolled blood pressure may have one or more symptoms before they have a hemorrhagic stroke

    Symptoms more specific to hemorrhagic stroke include:

    • Severe headache in the back of the head or top of the neck;
    • Tingling or numbness in an arm or leg, or an inability to move an arm or leg that comes and goes;
    • Periods of confusion and disorientation;
    • Nausea and vomiting;
    • Neck stiffness;
    • Dizziness, seizures, or changes in mental state, such as irritability, confusion, and possibly fainting.

    In most cases, brain cells are damaged during a stroke when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a sudden blood clot. This occurs in the same way that a blood clot in a vessel supplying the heart muscle causes heart attack. If treatment for this type of stroke is received within a few hours, it can help dissolve clots and minimize the potential consequences.

    How common is stroke?

    Stroke is a very common medical problem in most western societies. But there are many cases of people who have had a stroke and who have survived their stroke. It is the third-leading cause of death from any major illness. And it's also the leading cause of disability among adults.

    What are some of the risk factors for stroke?

    There are many risk factors for stroke which can be divided into two categories.

    1. There are risk factors that you have no control over such as gender, age or race.
      • Like heart disease, stroke is slightly more common in men than in women.
      • Stroke is also a little bit more common in patients who are black or Hispanic.
      • It is also more common as you get older so the typical patient who has a stroke is about 70 years of age.

    2. Then there are also modifiable risk factors, which can be managed with lifestyle changes or medication. These include:
      • high blood pressure or hypertension;
      • heart disease;
      • cigarette smoking;
      • heavy alcohol use;
      • diabetes;
      • high cholesterol;
      • People who have a sedentary lifestyle;
      • People who are overweight;
        all have an increased risk of stroke.

    Attention to modifiable factors (2 above) will change how stroke impact gender, age or race. Paying attention to rest , exercise and diet can push back the onset of stroke or any of these preventable diseases until after your death from natural causes.

    10/08/03







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