Lavern Davidhizar, DO
What is a Stroke? (Types, Signs, Symptoms, and Risk Factors)
Stroke is the main cause of long-term and serious disability and over six million
people have survived one in the United States alone.
What is a Stroke?
Strokes happen when there is a blockage of oxygen-rich blood flow to a section of
your brain. After several minutes of not getting enough oxygen, your brain cells
begin dying. When your brain begins to suddenly bleed and the cells of it are
damaged, this can also lead to stroke.
If a stroke caused damage to your brain cells or causes them to die, other parts of
your body that the cells of your brain control begins exhibiting symptoms. For
instance, you may begin encountering sudden paralysis (not being able to move),
experiencing numbness or weakness of your legs, face, or arms or having difficulty
seeing or understanding speech.
When you experience these or other symptoms of a stroke, you require emergency
care since it can cause long-term disability, brain damage, and in some cases, death.
Types of Strokes
Ischemic and Hemorrhagic strokes are the two most common stroke types, though
individuals also have mini strokes.
Around 85 percent of people who suffer a stroke have ischemic strokes. This is
when your brain doesn't get the oxygen-rich blood from your artery. In ischemic
strokes, the blockages are often caused by blood clots that lead to these types of
This type of stroke is when the artery in your brain breaks open (ruptures) or leaks
blood putting too much pressure on the cells of your brain and damaging them.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Strokes
There are also Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) strokes which are also known as
"mini-strokes." This is where there is blockage of blood flow to your brain for a few
minutes only. These mini-strokes are a warning sign that you may have a major
stroke in the future. More than 33 percent of people who have a mini stroke have
a major stroke with one year if they fail to receive treatment. Up to 15 percent of
people who have a TIA end up having a major stroke within three months.
Some vital stroke statistics to take into consideration include:
There are over 795,000 American people each year that have a stroke.
Each year around 130,000 people in the U.S. dies from stroke.
Every four minutes, one American dies from a stroke on average.
Around half of all strokes can be prevented.
These are only some of the many statistics available on strokes.
Signs and Symptoms of Strokes
The stroke symptoms you experience depends primarily on the section of your
brain that is damaged. You may not even realize you had a stroke. Symptoms of a
stroke typically come on with no warning and are sudden. On the other hand, you
may encounter symptoms on and off for a couple of days. You may experience
severe symptoms with the onset of a stroke that progressively get worse.
It's crucial you get or have someone else get medical help the minute a stroke
occurs. Being treated quickly reduces the amount of damage a stroke causes to
your brain. Knowing the symptoms and signs of a stroke along with quick action
can help save your life or someone else’s.
Common stroke symptoms include:
Women are more prone to experiencing altered mental states and other
nontraditional stroke symptoms.
A simple way of remembering stroke signs and what you need to do when a stroke
is occurring if you notice another person is having a stroke is by practicing FAST.
The acronym FAST means:
Keep in mind that “time is brain”, meaning that the longer you wait to seek medical
attention, the longer the cells of the brain are not getting oxygen-rich blood which
can cause irreversible damage. Yours or someone else's chances of recovery and
survival from a stroke increase when you get treatment within the first hour or two
after a stroke occurs.
Stroke Risk Factors
You can have a stroke no matter what age you are. There are certain risk factors
that increase your chances of having a stroke. Understanding these stroke risk
factors can help protect you or a loved one in the event there is a stroke or prevent
There are risk factors that can't be controlled. These include things like your family
history and your age. However, many of the risk factors can be changed or
controlled. Women have special risks of stroke due to gestational diabetes,
preeclampsia, pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, birth control, post-menopausal
hormone therapy, and other factors.
Some of the common risk factors of a stroke include:
considered normal when it’s below 120/80. It's considered high when it’s above
also be caused by secondhand smoke too.
your diabetes is very important.
that increases your stroke risk is sickle cell anemia where 'sickled' cells begin
sticking to the walls of your blood vessels and end up blocking arteries.
There are typically a few stages of stroke treatment which include:
2. Therapy following a stroke
3. Rehabilitation after a stroke
If you have higher risk factors it's important that you take prevention measures.
You must absolutely stop smoking. If you’re suffering with mini-strokes, you can
reduce your risk of having a major stroke or another attack by taking an aspirin or
an anticoagulant (prevents blood clots) drug. That said, it is always important to talk
with your doctor before starting any aspirin regimen.
Your physician may recommend carotid endarterectomy (a type of surgery for
preventing stroke). Like any other injuries to the brain, your success rate with
treatments will differ from others.
If you feel like you have high stroke risk factors, it’s important that you set up a
consultation with your doctor so you can discuss a preventative plan to help
reduce the chances of you having a stroke. If you end up having a stroke, it’s
important that you seek medical attention right away so you can begin treatment
at once to reduce the chances of any damage to your brain.
For more questions about stroke signs, symptoms, and/or risk factors call Family Medical Clinic today to setup and appointment at (907) 262-7566 and inquire about our BodySmart program.