Published on May 19, 2018

How to recognize and prevent a stroke

By Dr. Ron Van Ness-Otunnu, Associate Chief, Emergency Care Center, Sturdy Memorial Hospital

Would you like to prevent yourself or a loved one from suffering significant disability or premature death? Then learn about blood pressure and stroke! Did you know that 75% of first strokes are associated with high blood pressure, which is defined as greater than 130 (systolic) and 80 (diastolic)? Did you know that in addition to regulating blood pressure, there are many other factors that you can control to avoid a stroke? Keep reading to learn how to recognize a stroke and seek critical treatment, and what you can do to prevent stroke.

Most strokes are caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain, but some are caused by blood leaking into or around the brain. When this happens, the following symptoms may suddenly occur:

  • Weakness or loss of coordination on one side of the body
  • Facial droop
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of vision
  • Inability to balance or walk
  • Rapid onset headache

Brain tissue dies quickly. You do not have time to wait. Some treatments for stroke are only an option within the first few hours after symptoms occur. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the fewer options you have and the higher the likelihood that it will be difficult to regain function. If you suspect a stroke, call 9-1-1.

What can you do to prevent a stroke? Regular checkups with a primary health care provider can help you identify and reduce your risks. Just a few of the most important ways to prevent stroke that you can control include:

  • Managing blood pressure
  • Improving cholesterol
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Improving diet, especially lowering sodium intake
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Your primary health care provider may also identify other risks and offer strategies for healthier living or provide medication if needed.

Save someone you love. Save yourself. Stop a stroke.

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