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You might think of strokes as something that only impacts older adults, but they can strike at nearly any age. Any condition that results in a lack of blood flow to the brain can result in permanent disability. Therefore, you must recognize the signs and risk factors.
Strokes occur when a blood vessel in your brain becomes blocked or ruptures. As a result, a part of this organ dies. The aftermath can entail significant rehabilitation — but knowing the causes can help you reduce your risk. Early treatment, likewise, mitigates some of the devastating effects.
Sometimes, strokes occur with no apparent cause, but frequently, various risk factors combine to cause the damage. These fall into two categories — those you can control and those you cannot.
The risk factors that you can control have to do with your lifestyle choices. By making wiser decisions, you can reduce your risk significantly.
The older you are, the more your risk of a stroke increases. Another risk factor for stroke is your genes — if either parent had a stroke, you are more likely to have one. African Americans and women run a higher risk than others. Your socioeconomic status also plays a role — those who live in poverty are more likely to be affected.
If you suspect a stroke, how you handle the causes significantly impacts the effects. The symptoms involve sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body. You might have difficulty seeing, walking and even remaining upright. These symptoms may manifest as a droopy face or falls in other people. Learn the acronym FAST — facial drooping, arm weakness, speech slurred — time to call 911.
Seconds count. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the more likely it is to make a full recovery. Patients who take an anticoagulant medication within three hours of the initial blockage can reduce their chances of long-term disability significantly. If you aren’t sure, make the call and let the professionals make the assessment.
Strokes can lead to permanent disability. The typical hospital stay averages five to seven days, but the rehabilitation process can extend for months, even years. By the six months mark, many individuals achieve full recovery, but others develop chronic stroke disease that requires ongoing care.
If you have a stroke, you can expect some or all of the following during the rehabilitation process.
Researchers continue to search for new treatments, including biologics like stem cells, in treating stroke. In the meantime, your best bet for a full recovery involves early detection and treatment. Learn the signs and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you or someone you love is experiencing this event.
Learning the causes and effects of stroke can help you reduce your risk. By quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a reasonable weight through exercise can lower your chances, and early detection is your best hope for a cure.