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You can prevent, treat and beat stroke

You can prevent, treat or beat stroke through education and lifestyle changes. Find out how from TriStar Health.

May 04, 2023

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s also preventable and treatable.

So, what exactly is a stroke? A stroke occurs when part of the brain is cut off from blood and oxygen due to a blood clot or broken blood vessel. In just minutes, strokes can cause lasting brain damage, and delayed treatment increases the risk of permanent disability and death. Knowledge of stroke risk factors and symptoms is crucial to reducing the likelihood of and improving the outcome of a stroke.

Did you know? Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds.

Understand your risk

Stroke prevention starts with knowing the risk factors that increase the likelihood of having a stroke. Identifying the underlying cause of a stroke is also crucial to preventing subsequent strokes. Common risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, alcohol or drug abuse or heart disease. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor to manage and reduce your chance of stroke.

What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, but the reverse is also true — problems with the heart are well-documented as major stroke risk factors. For example, patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib) are up to five times more likely to experience a stroke. The American Heart Association's patient support network, MyAFibExperience, empowers individuals to better understand and manage their stroke risk.

You can also take this quiz to help determine your stroke risk.

Know the signs

When a stroke occurs, time is of the utmost importance. Getting treatment fast is essential to decreasing the long-lasting effects of stroke. The signs of a stroke can be thought of with the acronym, BE FAST. Here are the symptoms that could mean you or your loved one is having a stroke:

  • Balance or the inability to maintain coordination
  • Eyes or the inability to see out of one or both
  • Face that is drooping on one side
  • Arms or the inability to raise one or both
  • Speech or the inability to repeat a simple sentence

And if you or someone around you is experiencing the symptoms above, it is

  • Time to call 911 and seek emergency care.

Early or additional signs of stroke may include sudden:

  • Vision changes in one or both eyes, including monocular blindness (loss of vision in one eye)
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble walking (tripping on things due to inability to pick up leg)
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Remember that response time is vital. Around 120 million brain cells die every hour during a stroke. The most effective stroke treatments are available only if the stroke is diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms.

Take steps to prevent stroke

While some risk factors are outside of your control, making certain changes in your daily life can lower your risk. In fact, up to 80% of strokes may be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Managing blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Not smoking or vaping tobacco
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Taking medications as recommending by your provider

Share with your community

You can make a difference in your community by sharing your knowledge of stroke care and prevention with others. By sharing the resources in this article, along with additional resources provided by the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association and the Getting to the Heart of StrokeTM initiative, with your family and friends who may be at risk for stroke, you can help save lives.

TriStar Health has a network of accredited Stroke Centers across Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky that will work quickly to detect and treat strokes using the latest technology and treatment methods. Don’t delay, call 911 if you think you or someone you know may be having a stroke.

May 04, 2023

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