Understanding Stroke Risk Factors & Navigating Recovery

Posted By on June 22, 2021

A stroke is a serious and dangerous occurrence, and those who experience a stroke typically require extensive attention, therapy, and care while recovering.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is blocked by a clot, preventing them from entering the brain. When this happens, brain cells start to die almost immediately, resulting in loss of functioning in the affected areas. For example, if the stroke blocks blood flow to the region of the brain that controls vision, loss of sight may occur, and if blood flow is blocked from the frontal lobe, motor skills, movement, and behavior may be impacted.

Recognizing Stroke

When a stroke occurs, every moment is crucial. It’s vital to seek help and treatment as fast as possible to reduce long-term damage. When it comes to detecting the signs and symptoms of a stroke, many people use the F.A.S.T. acronym to recognize the telltale signs. 

  • Face: Is one side of the person’s face drooping? Ask them to smile. Is it uneven or crooked?
  • Arms: Ask the person to hold their arms out in front of them. Is one arm numb, or does it drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to answer a question or repeat a phrase. Is their speech slow, slurred, or otherwise strange?
  • Time: If the person shows any of these symptoms, don’t waste any time and call 911 immediately.

Other signs and symptoms of stroke include numbness on one side of the body, a sudden, severe headache, difficulty seeing or walking, and sudden confusion. Typically, these symptoms will occur abruptly with no warning.

Stroke Risk Factors

While strokes are a critical and severe condition, 80% of all strokes are preventable. By understanding the factors and habits that put you at risk for stroke, you can control and lower your chances. 

Stroke Risk Factors You Can Control

  • Lowering High Blood Pressure
  • Not Smoking
  • Managing Diabetes (If Applicable)
  • Maintaining a Healthy Diet
  • Staying Physically Active
  • Weight Control

Unfortunately, not all stroke risk factors are in your control. While the vast majority of strokes can be prevented by managing your health and wellness, there are some uncontrollable factors to be aware of that could increase your likelihood.

Stroke Risk Factors You Can’t Control:

  • Age: The risk of a stroke occurring increases with age.
  • Family history: If you have a close family member who has had a stroke, you could be at greater risk.
  • Sex: Stroke is more common in women than men.&
  • Personal health history: If you have already had a stroke or heart attack, your risk for stroke increases significantly.

What to Expect After a Stroke

Depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs, side effects can vary from person to person, but many people may experience:

  • Paralysis or weakness
  • Difficulty with thinking, problem-solving, judgment, etc.
  • Problems forming thoughts and speech
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble with chewing and swallowing
  • Loss of emotional control

Typically, after a stroke occurs, the person will stay in the hospital for a few days. After that, rehabilitation can begin in a rehab center or skilled nursing facility. The severity of the stroke usually determines how long and intensive the rehabilitation process will be. 

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