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Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

Apr 29, 2015 07:45AM ● By Amy
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By Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. – Southlake Medical Director, Complete Care

According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), approximately 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year – about one every 40 seconds. However, five times more people survive a stroke than die from one. Here are some of the signs that a stroke may be imminent, as well as some of the factors that can be controlled to reduce the risk of ever experiencing this problem.

What is a Stroke?
A stroke takes place when a blood vessel responsible for supplying a portion of the brain with nutrients and oxygen either becomes blocked due to a clot or ruptures. When this happens, the cells in the area of the brain being fed by that vessel die. 

The effects of a stroke can be devastating. If blood is not able to reach the part of a brain that controls a certain body function, then that part of the body won’t be able to work properly.

It is extremely important to be alert to the signs of a stroke immediately so that medical treatment can begin as soon as possible. The reason time is of the essence, according to the NSA, is that nearly 2 million neurons are lost for every minute that a stroke is untreated and blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Memory, speech, movement and many more bodily functions can be permanently damaged as a result.

If any of these symptoms appear suddenly, please seek help immediately:

• Loss of coordination or balance
• Difficulty walking
• Dizziness
• A severe headache
• Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
• Weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg
• Difficulty understanding or confusion

Reducing the Risk
There are certain factors that contribute to strokes that can be controlled, according to the American Stroke Association  These include:

Smoking – Several studies have identified cigarette smoking as one of the most important risk factors regarding strokes. Carbon monoxide and nicotine – ingredients common in cigarettes – can significantly damage the cardiovascular system.

High blood pressure – Getting effective treatment for this problem can greatly reduce the risk of experiencing a stroke. Lowering your sodium intake can reduce blood pressure significantly.

High cholesterol – Not only can too much cholesterol increase stroke risk, a lack of “good” (HDL) cholesterol can also increase the risk for men. If a diet is high in trans fat and saturated fat, that can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol in the system.

Obesity and lack of physical activity – Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are two of the most serious health risks, increasing the chances of not only a stroke but also other problems. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day.

These are just a few of the controllable factors that can increase the chances of suffering a stroke. To learn more, talk to your doctor.

If you have any questions about the symptoms of a stroke, or if you or a loved one ever experiences any sort of medical emergency, get in touch with the experts at Complete Care. Contact us online to learn more.

Dr. Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. has an extensive amount of experience in delivering advanced emergency care. He is board certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians/Texas College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Peebles is committed to providing timely, affordable and high-quality medical care to the Southlake community.