Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Of these strokes, nearly ¾ of them occurred in people over the age of 65. Strokes are so common and so serious that strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. May is Stroke Awareness month, and we wanted to spread information on what exactly happens during a stroke and what to do to prevent strokes from occurring.
First of all, it is important to understand a stroke. Your brain has a number of blood vessels called arteries that carry oxygen and other nutrients to various parts of the brain. Your brain relies on arteries for a constant supply of fresh blood to keep functioning. A stroke happens when one of these arteries either is blocked or bursts. Because an artery stops working, that part of the brain can actually die. Temporary blockage might not cause permanent damage but temporary malfunctions. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA): the blood supply is stopped only for a short period of time.
What causes these blockages or bursts of arteries? Occasionally, a blood clot or plaque forms near the heart or near a large artery that leads to the brain. This plaque eventually moves through the arteries until it reaches the brain, and this causes a stroke. Alternatively, clots can form inside the artery in the brain and interrupts the blood flow. A burst artery, on the other hand, is caused due to high blood pressure and aneurysms. High blood pressure weakens the arteries over time since the body has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood through the body. An aneurysm, on the other hand, is simply an arterial weak spot that gets weaker and begins to bulge. Over time, the blood vessel may burst, causing a stroke.
There are a few ways to spot someone having a stroke. Signs of a stroke include:
- Drooping side of the face
- Speech difficulties
- Muscle weakness on one side of the body
- Blurred vision
- Loss of balance
- Pins and needles-feeling
- Lightheadedness or vertigo
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Calling emergency services could actually save someone’s life if they are having a stroke. If your doctor has indicated that you are at risk for a stroke, they might recommend certain medications or even surgery. Of course, the best care is preventative, and staying healthy will reduce your likelihood of having a stroke. This includes plenty of physical exercise and quitting smoking.
Talk to your physician if you have a family history of strokes. A stroke is not necessarily the primary disease, but is often caused by other health factors. Listing all your family history and helping your physician identify which diseases you are most at risk for can minimize your risk of having a stroke. If you are looking for a doctor in Irving, TX, MSCI can help. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our medical providers.