A stroke occurs when a blood clot or broken blood vessel interrupts blood flow to the brain. This “brain attack” causes brain cells to die, leading to brain damage and lost body functions such a memory, speech or movement.
People of all ages and backgrounds can have a stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.
Stroke victims and their families can feel secure in the hands of the emergency and recovery care teams at Wise Health System. Our experts have the knowledge and technology to stop a stroke in progress, repair the damaging effects and support ongoing recovery through rehabilitation and follow-up care.
Know the Warning Signs
If you experience any of the symptoms below, get help immediately. They could be warning signs of a stroke:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Sometimes, patients experience a mini-stroke called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). In a TIA, unlike a full-blown stroke, blood flow to the brain stops briefly and then resolves. This generally causes no permanent damage. However, a TIA can be a warning sign that a stroke is coming. More than one-third of people who have a TIA later suffer an actual stroke, sometimes as early as the next day.
Check for Symptoms
Family or caregivers can use the F.A.S.T method to check for signs of a stroke:
- Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Can he/she hold them there, or does one arm drift downward?
- Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or is the person having trouble finding the correct words?
- Time – Time is important. If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 911. Brain tissue is at risk; the faster you seek medical attention, the greater a stroke victim’s chances of recovery.
Treating a Stroke
Our emergency medical team can treat a stroke, but you must get help fast. The sooner a stroke is caught, the better your chances of recovering.
In some cases, drug treatment can stop a stroke in its tracks. A medication called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can be effective if taken within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Your emergency medical team will determine if tPA is right for you.
Preventing a Stroke
A stroke can be devastating, yet up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Each year, approximately 700,000 people suffer a stroke. While some risk factors can’t be controlled (age, family history, race and gender), many can – particularly your lifestyle choices.
You can help prevent a stroke by taking the following actions:
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Get regular exercise.
- Monitor your blood pressure.
- Monitor your cholesterol.
- Manage your diabetes.
- Quit using tobacco products.
- If you are at high risk for a stroke, talk to your doctor about taking medication.