Strokes usually happen “out of the blue,” and when they do, the first few moments are critical. Successful recovery from a stroke often hinges on how quickly the patient can get to a hospital and start receiving treatment. The more you know about stroke, the more equipped you are to act fast and potentially save a life—or even to prevent a stroke from happening. To help you understand the risks associated with stroke, the warning signs and symptoms, and how to decrease the likelihood of developing a stroke, here are a few essential facts compiled from the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, and every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. That adds up to about 795,000 people who have a stroke in this country each year, of which 140,000 end in death.
People of all ages are affected by stroke.
There’s a widespread misconception that stroke only affects the elderly, but the truth is, stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. Though the risk of having a stroke does increase after the age of 55, nearly a quarter of all stroke-related deaths occur in people under the age of 65.
There’s more than one kind of stroke.
In general, there are three different kinds of stroke:
Transient ischemic attack
Also known as TIA, doctors refer to these as ministrokes. TIAs are caused by temporary blockages to the brain, and although the symptoms may pass quickly, they should be taken seriously, as they’re often warning signs of larger strokes to come.
About 87% of all strokes are ischemic, meaning a blood clot is blocking blood flow to the brain. The blood clot can form in a different part of your body and travel to the brain; these are known as embolic strokes. Thrombotic strokes are when the blood clot forms in a blood vessel in the brain itself.
When a blood vessel in your brain bursts, this is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. When this happens, blood spills into the surrounding tissues, creating swelling and pressure that causes brain damage.
Family history of stroke increases your risk of having one.
If your parent, grandparent, or sibling had a stroke before the age of 65, you may be at a higher risk of having a stroke as well. Other risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. By abstaining from smoking, getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, and eating a diet low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium, you may be able to decrease your overall stroke risk.
Warning signs and symptoms of stroke come on rapidly.
The most common signs of stroke have a sudden onset, including:
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Difficulty speaking or comprehending speech
Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
Trouble walking or maintaining balance
If someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to call 911 immediately so they can get the help they need as soon as possible.
Stroke recovery is a lifelong process.
Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, with the initial recovery period often taking weeks, months, or even years. A formal rehabilitation program can jumpstart your healing and help you relearn the critical skills you may have lost. By getting intense, comprehensive care early on, you increase your chances of making a full recovery and returning to a functional, independent life.
Stroke Rehabilitation at Bella Vista Health Center in San Diego
At Bella Vista Health Center, we offer inpatient stroke rehabilitation to help patients regain their independence following a stroke. Our highly skilled and compassionate team of healthcare professionals works with stroke patients in daily, individualized therapy sessions designed to help them recover as many functions as possible. Through stroke speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, we aim to help each individual maximize their health, independence, and quality of life.
For more information on our stroke rehabilitation program, call us at (619) 399-7920.