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Stay Ahead of Stroke: Be Fast!

By From AtlantiCare

Would you know what to do if you or a loved one was having a stroke? 

“The first step in preventing a stroke, or mitigating life-altering effects from one, is understanding what a stroke is,” said David Stidd, MD, chair, Department of Endovascular Neurosurgery and co-medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Program at the AtlantiCare Neurosciences Institute. “Then, you have to act on this knowledge. We encourage everyone to know their risk factors and make changes that can help prevent a stroke.” 

A stroke — sometimes referred to as a “brain attack” — occurs when the flow of blood in the brain is disrupted. A mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), usually lasts a few minutes and occurs hours or days before a full stroke. 

“Because it interrupts brain function, a stroke can cause temporary or permanent issues, ranging from inability to speak, memory loss and aphasia, to pain, paralysis and more,” said Stidd

Stroke prevention  

Preventing a stroke starts with knowing your risk factors. This includes ones you cannot change, such as: 

· Race/ethnicity — African Americans and Latinos have a higher stroke risk, for example. 

· Sex — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women; however, women are more likely to die of a stroke.  

· Personal or family history of heart disease or stroke.  

· Having had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). 

There are risk factors of stroke that you can control. These include:  

· High blood pressure  

· High cholesterol  

· Diabetes  

· Smoking  

· Obesity  

· Eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats and/or sodium  

· Drinking too much alcohol  

· Being sedentary  

You can help lessen these risk factors by:  

· Eating a “heart healthy” diet  

· Engaging in a regular exercise routine  

· Quitting smoking  

· Limiting alcohol intake  

· Having regular wellness visits with your healthcare provider  

· Taking medications as prescribed  

Of course, the very best strategy is one that is personalized for you. So, talk with your primary care provider or specialist about your individual stroke risk and changes you can make to help lower that risk. 

Lowering risk of stroke damage: every second counts  

Unfortunately, not all strokes can be prevented. But survival and, possibly, less severe physical and mental impact come down to three words: Every second counts.  

Calling 9-1-1 immediately can mean not only the difference between life and death but also the likelihood of returning to normal life with little to no disability. 

How do you know if a person is having a stroke or “mini stroke”? Use this phrase: BE FAST — be on the lookout for these telltale signs:  

· Balance: There is a struggle.  

· Eyes: There is vision loss.  

· Face: It appears droopy or uneven.  

· Arms: One or both are weak.  

· Speech: It’s slurred or confused.  

· Time: Call 9-1-1 immediately. 

For more information about stroke or AtlantiCare’s Neurosciences Institute services, or to book an appointment, visit atlanticare.org or call 1-888-569-1000.  

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