As we age, the risk of experiencing a stroke increases. Adults—especially men—with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are at a higher risk for having a stroke, as well as people who smoke or are obese. Strokes are a leading cause of death for Americans, and every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke.
But what is a stroke, can it be prevented, and what happens if a stroke goes untreated? At the Mission at Agua Fria, we know how serious a stroke is and how important it is to manage and monitor your health.
1. What Is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when there is a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. It doesn’t matter whether the interruption is a reduction or a stop—either will prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to your brain tissue, and brain cells will start to die.
There are actually two kinds of strokes: an ischaemic stroke, where the blood flow is stopped by a blockage, such as a blood clot, and a hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel in the brain weakens and bursts open.
2. Preventing a Stroke
The best way to ensure you can recover from a stroke is to not get one in the first place. As you get older, be sure that you’re taking care of yourself: cut down on smoking and drinking, be sure to get exercise, create healthy sleep habits, and eat a healthy, balanced diet, with an emphasis on seafood. If you have diabetes, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels as well. If there’s a history of stroke in your family, you may be able to even or reverse your odds.
3. What Are the Signs of Having a Stroke?
Depending on the severity of the stroke, there may be different symptoms. A stroke may cause a loss of balance and a fall. A person’s face may feel numb, and one side may look like it’s drooping. If one arm is numb or suddenly feels weaker than the other, and if their speech is slurred, the person may be experiencing a stroke. The first thing you should do, whether you or a person near you has any of these symptoms, is to call emergency services immediately. Make sure the person is in a safe, comfortable position, preferably lying on one side with their head slightly elevated in case they vomit.
4. What Happens If a Stroke Goes Untreated?
The above signs are very clear indications that something is wrong. However, there are more subtle symptoms, such as blurred vision, dizziness or lightheadedness, and nausea. If a minor stroke happens and nothing is done, your risk of increased disability becomes much higher. Once that blockage in the blood vessels begins, it only takes a few minutes before brain cells start dying. Stroke victims face weakness and paralysis, changes in senses, memory problems, vision problems, and behavior changes.
Even a small stroke can cut down on your mobility and enjoyment of life, so if you or someone near you experiences any of these symptoms, it’s best to call 911 as soon as possible.