What is a Stroke | Warning Signs | Risk Factors | Preventing a Stroke
If you have a stroke, where you are treated can have a significant impact on your potential for recovery. Patients in central Connecticut have the advantage of having a Primary Stroke Center, right here at MidState Medical Center.
The team at our Stroke Center is committed to assessing and treating stroke patients in a timely manner to enhance positive outcomes and increase the chance of a full recovery.
Our multidisciplinary Stroke Team includes:
- Neurologists and Case Managers who oversee your care
- Physical Therapists that help you regain mobility
- Occupational Therapists that teach you everyday tasks like bathing and dressing
- Speech Pathologists that address your speaking and swallowing abilities
- Nurses who are specially trained in the care of stroke patients
Every stroke is different. Depending upon your age and other medical conditions, our Stroke Team will determine the best approach to help you regain functioning and meet your optimal rehabilitation goals.
What is a Stroke?
Strokes happen suddenly. And their effects can be debilitating. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts, or is blocked by a clot. This causes brain cells to die, resulting in potential paralysis, loss of speech, visual impairment and other problems.
A stroke isn't a one-size-fits-all condition. There are many forms, ranging from mild to severe. The two most common types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when there's a blockage (a clot or a narrowed artery) that restricts blood flow to the brain. Bleeding in the brain, due to a broken blood vessel, causes hemorrhagic strokes.
It's important to recognize the warning signs of stroke, because, if you suffer a stroke, minutes count. The faster you can get to a hospital, the better your chances for a full recovery.
Here's a quick way to identify the signs of a stroke:
- Facial paralysis, weakness or numbness
- Arm paralysis, weakness or numbness (this usually occurs on one side of the body)
- Speech that is slurred; trouble speaking or understanding - these symptoms accompanied by sudden confusion, loss of vision, or unexplained dizziness mean you need to get help FAST because,
- Time is critical
Remember the FAST acronym. It might save your life!
There are some risk factors you can't control. But there are many factors - changes in habits and lifestyle - that are in your power to change.
It's important to learn what you can do to decrease your chances of suffering from a debilitating a stroke:
- Age (getting older puts you at risk)
- Race (African Americans are at much higher risk for a stroke)
- Family History (a strong family history puts you at higher risk)
- High Blood Pressure (at the top of the list of controllable risk factors)
- Smoking (increases blood pressure and encourages blood to clot)
- Physical Inactivity
- High Cholesterol
- Alcohol/Drug Abuse
- Diabetes (can harm the blood vessels in the brain over time, often accompanied by high blood pressure)
- Heart Disease
Atrial Fibrillation (can cause blood clots; if clot travels to the brain, a stroke may occur)
Our Stroke Center offers ongoing community education programs and stroke screenings to help you become aware of your risk and learn what steps you can take to get that risk under control. Check out the MidState's Calendar of Events for upcoming stroke programs.
Preventing a Stroke
There are many myths associated with strokes... "They only happen to the elderly." Or, "They can't be prevented." In reality, strokes can affect people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Some factors are beyond your control, but many others aren't.
Preventing a stroke is similar to preventing many other health conditions, such as cancer and diabetes. It takes an understanding of your risk factors, planning and a commitment to making healthier choices.
Here's what you can do to help prevent a stroke:
- Eat well
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you smoke, get the support you need to quit
- If you have alcohol/drug abuse issues, get the support you need
- Talk with your doctor about your: blood pressure, cholesterol, & diabetes
If you make healthy lifestyle choices, you'll be giving your brain and your body the best chance of keeping a stroke at bay.