Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, with 800,000 people experiencing a stroke annually, which is about one person every 40 seconds.
About 40 percent of people who die from stroke are men, and 60 percent of deaths occurring in women. The American Heart Association(AHA) reports that African-Americans have nearly twice the risk of a first-time stroke and a much higher risk of death from stroke, in comparison to Caucasian people.
A stroke is an unexpected and life-threatening event, which, if it does not end with death, is debilitating in some way and leads to numerous health issues, such as:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Trouble with reasoning and understanding
- Tingling sensation in your arm
- Loss of muscle movement
- Sensitivity to temperature changes
- Behavior changes
- Complete paralysis
- Trouble swallowing or talking
- Emotional issues
Stroke can be of two types, the first one, an ischemic stroke, occurs when the blood flow is blocked, blocks the blood flow, and the other, hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when there is bleeding in the brain.
These are the most common causes of strokes:
- High blood pressure is the most common cause of strokes, as it damages the arteries and makes them prone to blockages
- High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of strokes, as it causes an accumulation of plaque in the arteries, which can block the blood flow, and lead to stroke
- Heart conditions like defective heart valves, atrial fibrillation, and an irregular heartbeat can lead to strokes, as well as diabetes since it damages blood vessels
- Age, as people older than 55 are much more likely to experience a stroke
- Heavy drinking drastically elevated the risk of strokes
- Physical inactivity and obesity raise the risk of strokes, as well as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many issues directly linked to strokes
- Tobacco, since it elevates blood pressure, thickens blood, lowers the function of lungs, and leads to a buildup in arteries
- Certain medications, like blood-thinning medication, birth control oils, and hormone therapy increase the risk of strokes
Sometimes, one can prevent a stroke or its disastrous effects in case he recognizes its early symptoms. These are the most common symptoms of strokes:
- Slurred speech
- Unusual vision problems, but only in one eye
- Inability to put both arms in the air without one of them drooping back down
- Half of the face is drooping
- Difficulty walking
- One arm becoming weak or numb
- Trouble thinking
- Severe headache or migraine
Women also experience disorientation, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, hiccups, fainting, pain, abrupt behavior changes, while men can suffer from dizziness, fatigue, slurred speech, vision loss, inability to communicate, and pain in the stomach.
Remember that you should never ignore these symptoms, as the quicker you receive medical attention, the better off you will be.
Strokes are life-changing events which dramatically affect physical and emotional health. Therefore, a successful recovery after a stroke needs to involve a careful strategy, which combines specific therapies and support, like:
- Occupational therapy helps a person to enhance the ability to carry out routine daily activities, like bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.
- Speech therapy helps in the case a person faces any problems producing or understanding speech
- Physical therapy teaches a person to relearn movement and coordination and remain active
- The support from friends and family is crucial to the patient, as they offer the love and comfort that are much needed after a stroke
- Support groups are beneficial as a treatment of mental health problems like depression that can occur after a stroke
Additionally, you can also follow these tips and successfully prevent strokes:
- Control high blood pressure
- Quit smoking
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Eat healthy foods, including dark chocolate, daily
- Avoid recreational drugs
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Exercise regularly
- Lose weight
- Take medication to treat heart disease
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