Today, 3/5/2019, Dr. Oz leaves us with pertinent information on stroke. With the death of actor Luke Perry yesterday at only 52 years old, this information may save a life. Someone dies from a stroke every four minutes in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted. It is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment in order to prevent brain damage, other bodily issues, or even death. Unfortunately, having a stroke can happen at any age but most can be prevented by being aware of risk factors and symptoms.
Who’s at risk for a stroke?
There are a number of risk factors that apply to both men and women that can increase the risk of stroke. These include:
- Having a family history of stroke.
- Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Being diabetic.
- Being a smoker.
- Not exercising or being overweight.
But on top of those risk factors, most women don’t realize that there is a subset of risk factors specific to women that can increase stroke risk. These include:
- Suffering from migraines that include an aura beforehand, something that is more common in women.
- Taking certain kinds of birth control pills or using hormone replacement therapy.
- Being pregnant, which changes blood pressure and heart function.
What symptoms should I look out for?
The most common stroke symptoms include the sudden appearance of:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs, especially on one side of the body.
- Confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding.
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
- Severe headache with no apparent cause.
Both women and men have these symptoms, but women can also have a variety of other symptoms that are less commonly seen. According to the National Stroke Association, these additional symptoms include:
- Losing consciousness or fainting.
- General weakness rather than just a specific weakness in one part of the body.
- Trouble breathing.
- Confusion, unresponsiveness, or a feeling of disorientation.
- A sudden change in behavior.
- Feeling agitated.
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting.
- Sudden pain somewhere.
Looking at that list might seem alarming. After all, when was the last time you had a case of hiccups? Don’t worry; it probably wasn’t because you were having a stroke. The key thing to keep in mind is that alarm bells should start ringing when several symptoms appear together. Maybe you wouldn’t worry about hiccups if you feel completely fine otherwise, but what if you were also feeling one-sided weakness and nausea? Experiencing the most common symptoms or experiencing multiple other symptoms should trigger a cry for help.
What can I do to prevent a stroke?
The best preventative measure to take against a stroke is knowing your risk factors. Smoking, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are major risk factors for having a stroke. Fortunately, they’re also factors you can do something about. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking and get on a regular exercise regimen. Eating well will also help you not only lose weight but improve your blood pressure and cholesterol. These changes can have a big impact on your overall health and literally add years to your life.
Photo courtesy of Bing via blogs.redcross.uk.org