Stroke Information

Stroke Information

What is a Stroke and TIA?

Stroke is the third largest cause of death in America today. It's also the leading cause of severe disability. People over 55 years old have more chance of stroke, and the risk gets greater as you get older.

The good news is that 3.8 million people who have had strokes are alive today!

But it's important to know the warning signs (see below). You can also take steps now to prevent stroke. Even making little changes toward a healthy lifestyle can make a difference, so start now. The more you learn about stroke, the more likely it is that you can prevent or recover from one.

How does stroke happen?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets clogged or bursts. Then that part of the brain can't work, and neither can the part of the body it controls.

TIAs, or transient ischemic attacks, are "warning strokes" that can happen before a major stroke. They happen when a blood clot clogs an artery for a short time. The signs of a TIA are like a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. If you have any signs, see a doctor right away!

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, smoking and heart disease are major causes of stroke.

Your brain cells need blood, oxygen and nutrients to work. When the blood flow is blocked, you can have a stroke or TIA.

What are the signs of stroke or TIA?

These signs for stroke or TIA mean that you should get medical attention quickly! Quick action could save your life or help prevent a bad stroke. You may have some or all of these signs, which may last only a few minutes.

  • Feel suddenly weak in an arm, hand or leg
  • Can't feel one side of face or body
  • Suddenly can't see out of one eye
  • Suddenly have a hard time talking
  • Can't understand what someone is saying
  • Feel dizzy or lose balance
  • Have the worst headache you've ever had
What can be done?

First, a doctor will order tests to find the cause of the stroke. Treatment for stroke may include:

  • Drugs that prevent new blood clots from forming
  • Surgery to remove clots and/or cholesterol buildup
  • Treatment to help breathing and blood circulation
  • Rehabilitation that teaches new skills to make up for the ones lost because of stroke
How can I help prevent stroke?

Older people, men, African-Americans and people with diabetes or heart disease are most at risk for stroke. Even so, you should remember that there's a lot you can do to help prevent stroke! You must:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep blood pressure down.
  • Eat a low-fat, low-salt diet.
  • Take off extra weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Follow doctor's orders.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Get regular checkups.