Recognizing a Stroke

Stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a condition that results from oxygen deprivation to the brain.

Stroke occurs when the arteries that supply oxygen to the brain become blocked or when weakened blood vessels in the brain burst or hemorrhage. When oxygen to the brain is cut off, brain tissue dies.

Depending on which area of the brain is affected, stroke can result in the loss of motor or speech skills, or even death. The best way to combat stroke is to keep your arteries healthy and free of fatty deposits that can block blood flow.

Recognizing Warnings

Any of the following symptoms may be a warning for stroke. If you experience any of these warning signs, contact your physician immediately.

Changes in vision — episodes of “double” vision or temporary loss of sight (often in one eye only).

Headaches — unexplained headaches or changes in their pattern or intensity.

Sudden weakness or numb sensation in face, arm, or leg (temporary).

Speech changes — temporary loss of speech, or difficulty speaking and/or understanding what is being said.

Dizziness — episodes of temporary dizziness or lack of balance.

Personality changes — deviation from your normal attitude or mental ability.

Reducing Risks

The major risk factors for stroke are the same as those for heart disease: high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Fortunately, all of these risk factors are controllable. Eliminating these risk factors does not guarantee that you will never experience a stroke, but it does guarantee that your risk for stroke will be greatly reduced.

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