When blood flow is blocked from the heart to a specific section of the brain, that blockage will often lead to a stroke. If the blood flow is prolonged, serious and irreversible brain injuries can occur.
The National Stroke Association® states, “stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.” A fact sheet issued by the Association indicates that in the U.S., one person suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and a fatal stroke occurs once every four minutes.
While strokes are more common in women than men, an NPR article brings up a recent study that indicates there is a 30 percent greater chance of emergency room doctors misdiagnosing a stroke in women. Doctors are also less inclined to give younger patients a stroke diagnosis, as the likelihood of stroke is not common in patients under the age of 45.
Even when the young or women indicate they are experiencing common symptoms of stroke, the symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to other less serious conditions. For example, vertigo, migraine, intoxication and inner ear disorders are common misdiagnoses for a stroke in women.
As a young person or a woman, you may not realize you could be at risk of stroke. But a stroke is not specific to one body type, one age group or even a certain lifestyle. While an individual has no control over his or her age and family history of illness, there are other risk factors you may want to get under control to decrease the chance of a stroke.
The following are stroke risk factors reported by the CDC:
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Heart disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Unhealthy diet
- Inactivity or lack of exercise
- Excessive amounts of alcohol
- Smoking and use of tobacco
- Family history of stroke
If you have any of these risk factors, you can dramatically reduce your chances of suffering from a stroke by working to address them. Speaking with your doctor, adjusting your diet, becoming more active through exercise and a number of other actions can all contribute to lowering your risk of stroke. This is true regardless of your age.
Act Immediately If You Show Signs of a Stroke
The longer a stroke lasts without medical attention, the greater the risk of permanent injury.
- Numbness in your face, arm or leg (usually on one side)
- Difficulty speaking
- Confusion or inability to comprehend what other people are saying and doing
- Trouble seeing in one eye or both
- Inability to walk easily or maintain balance
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Severe, debilitating headache with a sudden onset
As there are different levels and severity of stroke, it is important you waste no time in seeking medical attention as soon as you recognize the signs of stroke.
- Do not wait for stroke symptoms to subside.
- Call 911 because every single minute counts.
- Take note of when your symptoms began and how long they last.
It is essential to get treated for a stroke quickly. Convey as much information about your symptoms as possible to those around you in case your are unable to do so when medical help arrives.