Brain Attack: Prevention and Detection
April 10, 2019
Every four minutes, someone dies from a “brain attack” commonly known as a stroke. When blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.
“We use the saying ‘time is brain.’ If treated with clot-busting medication within three hours of onset, we can significantly reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke,” said Pam Palmer, APRN, a nurse practitioner with CHI Health. “That’s why it’s incredibly important for everyone to know the signs of a stroke and to call 9-1-1 immediately.
“Things to look for include sudden numbness, weakness, confusion, trouble speaking, understanding or seeing, loss of balance or coordination and/or severe headache with no known cause,” said Palmer.
Some recover completely from strokes, but more than two-thirds of survivors will have some type of disability. The silver lining according to Palmer: “Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by managing your risk factors.”
- Know your blood pressure. If it is high, work with your doctor to lower it.
- Find out if you have atrial fibrillation. This “irregular heartbeat” can lead to higher risk of clotting.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles risk for a stroke.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Heavy drinking increases stroke risk.
- Manage your cholesterol. High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease, which can increase your risk of stroke.
- Control your blood sugar level. Being diabetic increases your stroke risk.
- Exercise daily. Perform moderate exercise (with doctor’s permission) at least 30 minutes per day for five or more days per week.
- Watch your diet. Cutting down on fat and salt may lower your blood pressure and stroke risk.
- Know the flow. Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems that increase your risk of stroke. If you do, medications can lower that risk.