Did you know that stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and one of the top causes of death?
During this National Stroke Awareness Month, we’re going to discuss some surprising facts about stroke you may not know. Prevention begins with education, so keep reading to learn more about stroke and how you can decrease your personal risk.
While the majority of stroke victims, about two-thirds, are aged 65 or older, stroke can happen to anyone, no matter your age.
You may be surprised to learn that while strokes are most common in senior adults, they can, and do, happen to anyone, regardless of age. Children, young adults, and even infants in utero can have strokes, which are just as devastating as the strokes that may occur later in life. In fact, stroke remains a top cause of death in children – that’s why it’s important to never rule out stroke based on age alone.
Men and women can exhibit different stroke symptoms.
Around 33% of women don’t report typical stroke symptoms, such as jaw or arm pain, when admitted to the emergency room. This may explain why stroke is more fatal in women than men, who are more likely to be administered a crucial, life-saving stroke drug. Some women report less obvious symptoms, like headaches, which may not indicate the severity of the emergency and prolong necessary treatment.
There are different kinds of strokes.
The most common type, Ischemic Stroke, accounts for around 80% of all stroke cases. This type, which occurs when a blood vessel is blocked and a portion of the brain is deprived of oxygen, will often exhibit the more obvious stroke symptoms. The best way to remember these symptoms is to memorize the acronym, F.A.S.T., which we’ve written out below.
F – Is one side of the FACE drooping down?
A – Is there pain in either ARM?
S – Is SPEECH slurred or indistinguishable?
T – TIME is of the essence. Call 911 immediately!
The second type, Hemorrhagic Stroke, which accounts for around 20% of all stroke cases, occurs when a blood vessel or clot bursts and spills blood, depriving the brain of oxygen. The most common signs of this type of stroke are nausea, vomiting, sudden loss of consciousness, intense headaches, and numbness that may occur on only one side of the body or all over.
You can have multiple, less severe strokes and never know.
Referred to as ‘minor strokes,’ they may cause vague or no symptoms at all when they occur. You may have even dozens before they’re caught. And while they may seem mostly harmless, it’s important to remember that these minor strokes will cause damage to your brain. This damage can lead to poor memory, occasionally slurred speech, and difficulty thinking or ‘cloudy’ thoughts.
Strokes can often be prevented with the right changes to your physical activity and diet. Consult with your physician to determine the best way to protect your brain health, especially as you age, and to learn more about your individual risk factors.
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