Most people who have had a stroke said that they felt fine before they had a stroke. Strokes can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. But remember, the great news is that 80 percent of strokes are preventable. A stroke is a medical emergency that can lead to death or disability. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability for all Americans. Most people who have a stroke are very likely to have another stroke.
A stroke happens when the blood supply of oxygen-rich nutrients somehow stops getting to your brain cells. Wherever the blood is stopped, that is where the brain cells die at the rate of two million per minute. This is usually caused by a blood clot or heart attack.
The location of the stroke in your brain will indicate what type of disability to anticipate. So, if you have a stroke in the back of your head, it will affect your vision; if your stroke is on the side, it may affect your movement.
The most common and preventable stroke is an ischemic or clot-caused stroke. Here a clot clogs the blood flow in the brain. Think of your kitchen sink and how a clog stops the water in the pipes. your arteries and blood vessels are like those kitchen pipes only they carry oxygen-rich blood to your brain. If the arteries get clogged by plaque or blood clots, the blood can't get through and the brain cells are starved for oxygen and die. Those dying cells begin to give off chemicals which will kill even more brain cells.
A less frequent but more deadly type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke. We all know what happens when you hemorrhage and blood spills everywhere. In this case, it is happening in the brain. It is just like a kitchen sink pipe bursting, only the pipe is an artery or blood vessel in the brain.
Another classification is a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. With this type of brain attack, symptoms last from a few seconds up to 24 hours but then disappear with no lingering disability. This is a very important warning: Up to 35 percent of TIA patients are expected to have a major stroke within days or weeks of the TIA.
Ask your doctor about your risk of having a stroke.
It is easy to reduce your risk of having a stroke:
The West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital offers a free, online tool for people to find out if they are at risk for having a stroke. Click here to take the free five-minute risk assessment to help determine your risk for having a stroke.
There are many websites that offer information about preventing a stroke. Here are a few:
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