By the time you realize you're having a stroke, it's often too late. Memorize these warning signs to increase the likelihood of survival.
What Is A Stroke Exactly?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, according to the National Stroke Association. Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and are quickly killed off as a result, causing minor to major damage to the areas of the brain that manage muscle control and memory. How severe the stroke is depends on where it occurs in the brain. As the leading cause of disability in the United States, the National Stroke Association says up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
The Risk Factors
The risk factors for stroke are typical risks for many diseases. They include:
- High cholesterol
- Drug use
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
Living a healthy, active lifestyle is the best way to stave off stroke and many other diseases, but there are some unique risk factors for women specifically. The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association list them as:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Hormonal birth control
- Psychosocial stress
While these risk factors statistically increase the likelihood of a stroke, it doesn't necessarily mean that those with a healthy lifestyle are immune. In order to get help quickly, you need to know the signs that you're having a stroke and what to do about it.
The classic symptoms of stroke apply to both genders and can include confusion, numbness, weakness, dizziness, trouble with vision and headaches. Not all stroke cases are alike and one patient may experience only one or two of these symptoms. In women, there are several more signs that point to stroke:
- Shortness of breath
- General pain
- Changes in mood and behavior
If you're experiencing all or some of these symptoms, feeling confused may impact your ability to effectively communicate what's wrong. If you're alone, call 911 and try your best to explain your situation. If you're with a friend or family member, have them call 911 for you.
In a situation where you need to identify your stroke status quickly, follow the FAST method from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
F - Face drooping. If you're experiencing muscle weakness in the face, contact 911 immediately.
A - Arm weakness. Arm weakness is a telltale sign of stroke and should be taken as a serious indicator that something is wrong.
S - Speech difficulty. If you know that you know the words you're trying to say but can't say them, move onto the next step.
T - Time to call 911. All three of these signs require intervention from a doctor immediately.
Doctors suggest you head to the emergency room if you think there's even a slight chance you're having a stroke.
Know Your Body
Don't ignore the unusual symptoms that occur in your day-to-day life. Strokes can vary from minor to major. Knowing the risks and signs of a stroke will help you live your best (and longest!) life.