What is a stroke?

 

A stroke is a medical emergency in which time is essential in preventing loss of brain function. The faster a patient receives proper treatment, the better the chances for recovery. Depending on the type of stroke, treatment options need to be delivered within a three- to six-hour window.

Warning signs of stroke

The five most common warning signs of stroke are:
  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion trouble speaking or understanding someone speaking to you
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • sudden difficulty walking, dizziness or loss of balance
  • sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room. The ability to recover from a stroke depends on getting treatment as quickly as possible. Every minute is important.

Reduce risk of a stroke:

Although some risk factors for stroke are beyond our control, others are influenced by lifestyle. Here are ways you can reduce the risk of stoke:
  • Control blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is considered below 120/80. A blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is considered pre-hypertension. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
  • Maintain healthy cholestrol levels. LDL (bad cholestrol) should be below 100; HDL (good cholesterol) above 40; total cholestrol below 200 is optimal.
  • Control sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Limit to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and know your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI is between 19 and 24.