What You Need to Know about Strokes

During the recent Super Bowl, there was a young female sportscaster on television who began to slur her words and talk in jibberish.  Audiences were alarmed and concerned that she might have been  having a stroke.  It was a very real concern.  She was exhibiting some signs and symptoms of a stroke.  Though the risk of stroke is much greater in older people, young people can experience strokes as well.  In 2004 more than 100,000 people under sixty-five experienced strokes.   Strokes are not just a disease of the elderly. 

 Young women, especially, can be at higher risk for strokes.  Risk factors for those under fifty-five include:

  1. Migraine headaches that also produce visual disturbances (aura)
  2. Birth control pills-even low dose estrogen may greatly increase risk
  3. Hormone replacement therapy
  4. Lupus or other anti immune diseases
  5. Clotting disorders

In my experience as a nurse I have found that the biggest fear of many seniors  is not of dying, but of having a stroke and being disabled, unable to control their body or unable to speak.  Strokes can be very frightening so it is extremely important to know the warning signs and what to do if they occur.  It is extremely important to act quickly when a stroke occurs.  It is a medical emergency requiring immediate action!  If addressed soon enough, the stroke may be stopped and/or the effects minimized.

In order to effectively treat most strokes, you must get to a hospital, be diagnosed and treated within 3 hours from the beginning of the first symptoms***   Don’t waste time!  If there are symptoms, call EMS and get to the hospital. 

 If it has been longer than 3 hours since the beginning of symptoms, you should still go to the hospital for other types of therapies to minimize damage, and prevent additional strokes or complications.

Thank goodness the sportscaster did not have a stroke.  She was reportedly diagnosed with a migraine but there was no way of knowing that until she was taken to the hospital. 

What is a stroke? 

Another medical term for a stroke is a CVA.  That is a cerebral vascular accident.  It occurs when a blood vessel, that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain, is either blocked by a clot or bursts and bleeds.   Part of the brain does not get the blood it needs so it begins to die.

So, a stroke is caused by the lack of blood supply to an area of the brain and without oxygen rich blood that part of the brain dies or is damaged.

There are 2 types of strokes:

  1. The most common is an ischemic stroke.  Ischemic means without oxygen.  It occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain.
  2. The other type is a hemorrhagic stroke in which a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or bleeds and the area it supplies with blood is damaged.

In both cases, an area of the brain is damaged by the lack of blood supply.  Strokes are the number 3 killer in the US only heart disease and Cancer are responsible for more deaths. 

Symptoms of a stroke:

Symptoms of a stroke vary somewhat according to the area of the brain affected.  Whatever function that part of the brain fulfills is what is affected but the following symptoms are some indicators of a possible stroke and should be paid attention to..

  1.    Sudden numbness or weakness-may involve the face, arms or legs-especially if on just   one side of the body
  2.   Sudden trouble seeing-in either or both eyes
  3.   Sudden confusion- unsure of surroundings, memory loss
  4.   Sudden difficulty walking-dizziness, loss of balance, drifting to one side
  5.   Trouble speaking or understanding
  6.   Severe headache

As soon as you become aware of any of these symptoms, you need to call EMS and get to an ER immediately! 

When I first began my nursing career, most people were unfamiliar with the symptoms of heart attacks.  Many people waited to seek medical attention because either they did not know what was happening or those around them did not know the signs to observe for.  Most people today know the symptoms of a heart attack but many are still not sure of the signs of stroke.  Lives can be saved if we are all familiar with these symptoms and know what to do if they occur.

Educate yourselves and save lives!  For more information, visit The American Heart Association websites.

www.heart.org          or www.strokeassociation.org

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408 Responses to “What You Need to Know about Strokes”

  1. Gordon says:



  2. Orlando says:


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  3. Maurice says:



  4. richard says:


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  5. alfonso says:


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  6. Glen says:


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  7. Kent says:


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