Early detection and prompt treatment of stroke is the key to preventing lasting disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a case of stroke in the US after every 40 seconds. It causes more than 130,000 deaths in the US each year.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by a blockage (ischemic stroke) or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). When deprived of oxygen, the brain cells begin to perish, disrupting your cognitive or motor functions. If left untreated, it can have serious implications or even cause death. Sometimes one can also suffer from a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in which the blood flow is blocked temporarily. The symptoms may subside but it is a signal of an impending stroke and should not be ignored.

There can be a number of underlying medical conditions that can trigger a stroke. Some of the common ones are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Apart from these your heredity, age, gender, and ethnicity can also influence your susceptibility. Since, every second counts when it comes to surviving a stroke, knowing the right signs can help you save a life.

F.A.S.T is the most popular and easy way or remembering the signs and symptoms of stroke.

F – Face – Ask the person to smile. Check if the smile appears crooked or if the face is drooping on one side.

A – Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Check if he/she has difficulty holding them up or if one of the arms is drifting downwards.

S – Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence or phrase. Check if his/her speech is sloppy.

T – Time – If you find any of the above symptoms, it is time to call the emergency number 9-1-1.

In addition to F.A.S.T, there are some other signs too that can be a warning of stroke –

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs
  2. Difficulty in speaking or understanding what other is saying, sudden confusion
  3. Sudden trouble in seeing – partial loss of sight in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden loss of balance, dizziness and difficulty in walking
  5. Sudden occurrence of a severe headache for no reason

Small changes in your lifestyle and health and home remedies can help you mitigate the chances of stroke.  Read on to know a few.

  • Maintain a lower blood pressure and cholesterol – High blood pressure and high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) are the biggest and the most common causes of strokes in both men and women. If left untreated they can damage the heart and arteries and lead to blockage of blood vessels. It is advisable to maintain a blood pressure of 120/80 and cholesterol below 200 mg/dL. These counts can be maintained in a number of ways –
  • Reducing your salt intake
  • Avoiding junk foods that are high in trans fat
  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and high-fibre foods
  • Exercising regularly

However, if you suffer from persistent high-blood pressure, it is advisable to visit a doctor who can prescribe you appropriate medicines.

  • Lose weight and exercise regularly – Obesity or being overweight is a major health problem in the US. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1 in every 3 adults is found obese. For such adults losing weight even marginally can lower the chances of stroke significantly. In order to stay healthy it is advisable to maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less. You can kick start with a few changes to shed off those extra pounds.
    • Count your calories. Restrict your calorie intake to 1500 or 2000 calories, depending on your level of activity
    • Take a 30 minute walk or play your favorite sport
    • Avoid sugary drinks and sodas
    • Eat a high-protein and high-fibre diet
    • Don’t skip any meal as you tend to consume more in subsequent meals
  • Quit smoking and drink in moderation – Compared to non-smokers, smokers are twice more susceptible to ischemic strokes. Smoking lowers the oxygen level in your blood. It also damages the arteries and increases the chances of clot formation. Here are some ways to reduce the risks –
  • If you find it difficult to quit smoking, try to cut down.
  • Consult a doctor for smoking cessation methods or nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Analyse your triggers and make a plan to avoid situations that normally make you smoke.
  • Take up a hobby to keep yourself busy.

Drinking in moderation not only reduces the chances of stroke but can also protect your heart against it. According to a 2006 Northern Manhattan Study, moderate consumption of alcohol reduced the chances of ischemic stroke in multiethnic population.

  • Take Asprin – Since stroke is caused by a blocked blood vessel, aspirin helps in reducing the clotting process in your blood. However, it can make your condition worse if you suffer from a hemorrhagic stroke as it will increase the bleeding through the ruptured vessel. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor before consuming aspirin to avoid any mishaps.



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