An overview of stroke
A stroke is a kind of medical condition that occurs when the brain is attacked. Strokes happen because of the blood supply to the brain being cut off causing the brain cells to die. When the brain cells die, the abilities that are being controlled by the brain like muscles and memory become lost.
When a stroke occurs, it is considered to be a medical emergency that needs to be attended to immediately.
In the United States, about 800,000 people have experienced strokes. It is also one of the leading causes of death for many individuals. About 40 percent of males die from stroke, while 60 percent are females. Many disabilities seen in adults are because of stroke.
However, the effects of stroke for some people may differ from others depending on where the stroke has occurred and the severity of brain damage. For instance, when a person had a small stroke, they would only experience slight problems like temporary weakness in the extremities. On the other hand, people with bigger strokes may be paralyzed permanently on a specific area of their body or is unable to speak.
Regardless of the severity, a stroke victim should be medically treated as soon as possible to avoid permanent disabilities or even death.
What causes a stroke to occur?
A stroke may be caused by three ways:
- An artery gets blocked or also known as ischemic stroke. This is the most common stroke experienced by individuals. This occurs when our arteries connected to the brain becomes blocked due to fatty deposits or blood clots. This then causes a reduction of blood flow to the brain causing the stroke.
- When a blood vessel going to the brain becomes ruptured. This is also known as hemorrhagic stroke. When the blood vessel bursts or leaks, it can cause many other serious conditions like hypertension, thinning of the blood and aneurysms.
- When a person also experiences the same but smaller version of a stroke that may last for a shorter period. This is also known as a ministroke or a transient ischemic stroke. When this happens, a person should seek medical attention immediately to prevent a more serious stroke from occurring.
Who are at risk of a stroke?
Many different factors can increase your risk of a stroke. Some of these factors include lifestyle and medical factors.
People who have certain habits and lifestyle can potentially increase the risk of getting a stroke. The kind of lifestyle includes:
– Eat unhealthy foods
– Are obese or overweight
– Addicted to smoking and illegal drugs
Other people who have underlying health conditions are also at risk of getting a stroke. Some of these medical conditions include:
– Sleep Apnea
– Cholesterol levels are high
– High blood pressure readings
– History in the family suffering with stroke or cardiovascular diseases
There are also additional factors that increase the risk of getting a stroke including old age, racial identity, gender roles as well as hormones, especially in women.
Health complications caused by stroke
The severity of the damage caused by a stroke can cause either permanent or temporary disabilities in adults. These complications or disabilities include:
– Inability or difficulty in swallowing or talking
Since the stroke affects the brain, some parts of your muscles surrounding the throat and mouth get affected as well. The loss of muscle control causes difficulty in eating or swallowing properly and speaking clearly.
– Loss of body muscle control or paralysis
For larger strokes, bigger areas of the muscle get affected causing paralysis in certain areas of the body. The loss of muscle control in the body makes it extremely difficult to do normal activities like walking and dressing.
– Loss of memory and difficulty in thinking
Since the brain gets affected when a stroke occurs, memory loss is also common. A stroke victim may have trouble remembering things.
Other complications associated with stroke include emotional struggles, depression, and pain.
How to help a person suffering from a stroke?
- Recognize all the clear signs and symptoms
To know the symptoms, apply the FAST acronyms.
FACE – Is their face drooping on one side or appearing weak? Ask the person to smile or stick their tongues out to find out.
ARMS – Can they raise both their arms easily?
SPEECH – Can they speak properly or do their words sound slurred?
TIME – once these symptoms are recognized, make sure to contact 911 immediately.
- Stay with them after calling 911
Make sure to stay with the victim after calling 911. Do not give them food, drinks or even medicine. Make sure that the victim is safe by checking the immediate surroundings. Try to make conversation with the victim by asking their name or make them try to grasp your hand tightly if they can. It is essential that during this time that you remain calm and not panic.
- Take notes
Make sure to take note of the time when the stroke happened. This is extremely important information that is needed by attending doctors later. If the victim is taking certain medications, make a list and even bring them to the hospital with you.
- Place them in recovery or comfortable position
While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, make sure to place the victim in a comfortable position. If the victim is conscious, make sure to place them gently in a position that is easy for them to breathe. You can also loosen any tight clothing especially clothes with scarves or buttons. If they are cold, place a blanket over them to help them keep warm. Comfort and assure the victim that help is coming.
If the victim is unconscious, have them lie down sideways and make sure that their airways do not get blocked. Monitor their breathing frequently by looking at the movement of their chest. Ensure that their head is tilted up to drain the airway of particles like vomit.
- Perform a CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
When a stroke victim is not breathing, performing CPR is vital to save their life when help has not arrived yet. There are health centers that can train anyone how to conduct proper CPR on adults using only the hands. However, when the stroke victim is not breathing, call 911. They will then guide you clearly on the phone how to properly push your hands into the victim’s chest until help arrives.
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