Are you able to identify the symptoms of a stroke in a case you are experiencing one? It is considered that stroke is the second cause of disability worldwide. Each year, 15 million people around the world experience strokes. One-third of these people die, while another third becomes permanently disabled. Only in the United States, stroke takes the fifth place on the list of leading causes of death. Regardless of the age, every person can experience stroke. However, it is much more common in people over the age of 60.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is shut down. Without oxygen, brain cells quickly die. The individual who suffers from a stroke may lose abilities or memories that are in the parts of the brain that are affected.
There are two types of stroke:
Hemorrhagic — This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or a brain aneurysm bursts and blood flows into or around the brain, thus causing pressure.
- Intracerebral hemorrhage is the situation when the damaged vessel leaks blood directly into brain tissue which in turn kills brain cells.
Sometimes, the hemorrhage can occur because of a genetic malformation of the arteries and veins in the central nervous system. If you diagnose this condition on time, you can get the right treatment and prevent stroke.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage usually occurs when there is a bleeding in the area between the brain and the surrounding tissues.
In most cases, this is caused by a burst aneurysm. However, it can occur as a result of using blood-thinning medication or head injury.
Ischemic – This type is usually caused by a blockage or blood clot in a blood vessel, shutting down blood supply to the brain. This type of stroke is the most common.
- An embolic stroke is when a blood clot form and arterial plaque break off anywhere in the circulatory system. If this goes to the brain and reaches a blood vessel which is very small for it to pass through, it usually gets stuck there.
- A thrombotic stroke is when a blood clot forms inside one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain, thus causing a blockage.
- A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also known as a “mini-stroke”. It temporarily blocks the supply of blood to the brain and causes no serious damage.
If you think you may have experienced a TIA, you should immediately see a healthcare provider because it is usually a precursor to an ischemic stroke.
What Contributes to Risk of Stroke?
The person can have a stroke with experiencing warning signs before. These are the main risk factors for stroke:
- Alcohol and other substance abuse, e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine
- Atherosclerosis or other cardiovascular diseases.
- Chronically high cholesterol
- Long-term use of some medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), including ibuprofen and naproxen
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Sickle cell disease
- Smoking cigarettes
- Stress and depression
- Age and sex – As we age, the risk of stroke increases. In people under the age of 60, men have increased risk compared to women to experience a stroke. However, women have an increased risk to die as a result.
- Race/ethnicity – in North America, African- and Native Americans have an increased risk of experiencing strokes compared to other ethnic groups
12 Symptoms of a Stroke
The symptoms of stroke usually depend on the area of the brain that is affected by the shutdown of brain supply.
In order to prevent serious damage and a life of disability, it is very important to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and know their meaning so you can seek a medical attention quick enough.
1. Pain on One Side of the Face
Unexpected and unexplainable pain on the side of the arm, face, leg, or chest is not typical but it is not uncommon. Women have a higher risk to experience atypical stroke symptoms.
2. Blurry Vision
Inability to see clearly, blurred or double vision, inability to focus your eye(s), or some other changes (in one or both eyes) can be a sign of stroke.
3. Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing
In most cases, women experience different symptoms of a stroke compared to men. Some of these different symptoms include having difficulty swallowing or breathing, sudden pain, seizures, hiccups, fainting, irritation, nausea or vomiting, and hallucination.
Even though hand tremors are not that common symptom, it is confirmed that it is a symptom of cerebral infarction (obstruction of blood supply to the brain).
5. Loss of Balance
Loss of balance, lack of coordination, and sudden dizziness can indicate a stroke, and you should take them seriously!