Stroke Symptoms

How Do I Know if I’m at Risk for a Stroke?

Strokes are more likely to happen to people that have certain risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Major stroke risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Age and gender
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Family history of stroke or TIA
  • Brain aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations

Other risk factors for stroke are:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Weight and obesity
  • Stress and depression
  • Alcohol and illegal drug use
  • Poor cholesterol levels
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Certain medical conditions like sickle cell disease, vasculitis and other bleeding disorders

Luckily, for most of these other risk factors there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of having a stroke. If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor to figure out what lifestyle changes you can make.

What Are the General Symptoms of a Stroke?

The symptoms of a stroke are the same for men and women. Knowing the symptoms of a stroke can help you lessen brain damage and potentially save a life. Signs of a stroke can happen suddenly and include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the arm, face or leg in one side of the body
  • Difficulty understanding speech, confusion or trouble speaking
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Difficulty walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination or dizziness

Getting help as soon as possible is crucial for those who are suffering from a stroke. Treatments work best if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms. An easy way to memorize the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or someone else is by using the letters in F.A.S.T.

Face: Is the face drooping or is it numb? When you smile, is it uneven or lopsided?

Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Raise both arms – does one drift down?

Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or difficult to understand when asked to repeat a simple sentence?

Time to call 9-1-1: If any of these symptoms are present, even if they go away, it’s time to call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately.

What Are the Different Types of Strokes?

There are three main types of strokes:

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack is also referred to as a mini stroke and usually acts as a warning. Any temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain causes a TIA and symptoms only last for a short period of time.

Ischemic Stroke

A majority of the strokes that happen are ischemic strokes. These types of strokes happen when blood flow is blocked through the artery that provides blood to the brain. The blockages in ischemic strokes are usually caused by blood clots.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a brain artery leaks blood or ruptures. Aneurysms and high blood pressure can cause hemorrhagic strokes. There are two different types of hemorrhagic strokes:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage: This type of stroke happens when an artery in the brain ruptures and causes the brain tissue to fill with blood.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: This type of stroke happens when there is bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue that covers it. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are less common.

Stroke Side Effects

A stroke can have life-altering consequences if not treated quickly. Strokes affect the brain which controls a majority of human life functions including blood pressure, breathing and many more.

Side effects may include:

  • Numbness, pain or decreased sensations in parts of the body
  • Paralysis, usually in one side of the body or face
  • Difficulty reading, writing or understanding people
  • Behavior changes such as depression or anxiety

Banner’s compassionate and knowledgeable staff is here to help if you’ve suffered a stroke. If you think you or a loved one are experiencing any stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately.