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What is a Stroke – Learn About Reducing the Risks


What is a StrokeWhat is a stroke? Although, most of us have seen someone with a stroke, some people are still confused about what it is.

Nearly 800,000 people fall victim to strokes in the United States each year.  A stroke occurs every 40 seconds.  As the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., strokes occur in approximately 1 out of every 6 people. Knowing the signs of a stroke as well as acting swiftly when one occurs could be the difference between life and death or permanent disability.


What is a Stroke


A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is halted by obstruction or when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain bursts.  Although the majority of strokes occur in older people, they can occur in young people as well.  Nearly a quarter of all strokes happen in people under age 65.  For this reason, it is important to know what to look for in a potential stroke victim.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you suspect someone is experiencing a stroke.


Warning Signs of a Stroke


The primary warning signs of a stroke are best remembered by using the acronym F.A.S.T.


F………Face* Is the person experiencing drooping on one side of their face?

A………Arms* Is the person experiencing weakness of the arms or other extremities?

S………Speech* Is the person having difficulty speaking?  Are they slurring their words?

T………Time* If the person is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s time to call 911.


Consequences of Having a Stroke


Strokes Can Cause Vascular DementiaBesides the obvious possibility of death, strokes can also cause a number of severe conditions.  A stroke can leave the victim partially paralyzed on either side of the body.  Another common result of stroke is diminished cognitive abilities, such as with vascular dementia.

This can manifest itself in several ways including impaired judgement or memory problems.  It can also mean a loss of learned behaviors including speech capabilities.  Emotional problems such as depression are also common following a stroke.  Pain in the extremities and partial weakness or numbness on one side of the body are also frequently experienced.  These conditions can be either temporary or permanent.  Some improve with therapy.


How to Reduce Your Risks of Getting a Stroke


Although the possibility of experiencing a stroke can be terrifying, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Take Aspirin Daily – Doctors commonly recommend taking one aspirin daily for patients at risk of stroke.
  • Stop Smoking – Another major controllable factor is smoking.  Smoking plays a role in 1 out of 5 strokes so quitting greatly reduces your chances of having a stroke.
  • Lower Blood Pressure – Because half of all strokes are caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, you should routinely check your blood pressure and work with your doctor to maintain a healthy level.
  • Lower Your Cholesterol – Additionally, lowering your cholesterol and maintaining a healthy body weight by eating a low-fat diet and exercising is another way to minimize your chances of experiencing a stroke.




Because strokes can strike anyone at any time, it is imperative to know and heed the warning signs.  There is no time to waste when a stroke is suspected.  The sooner medical attention is sought, the better the victim’s chances are for survival.


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