Symptoms of a stroke can come on very fast. Knowing the signs and getting to a hospital quickly are essential.
Am I Having A Stroke?
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications.
What is a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)?
A TIA is a mini or minor stroke. Like a stroke, it occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced. The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke. What distinguishes it from a stroke is that TIA symptoms disappear from within minutes to 24 hours.
Note: About 15% of major strokes are preceded by TIAs. Don’t ignore a TIA. Call 911 or seek emergency attention immediately.
Common symptoms of stroke
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Note: B.E. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember how to recognize a stroke and what to do. Balance lost. Eye problems. Face drooping. Arm weakness. Speech difficulty. Time to call 911.
Symptoms more common to women
Loss of consciousness or fainting
Difficulty or shortness of breath
Confusion, unresponsiveness or disorientation
Sudden behavioral change
Nausea or vomiting
Because unique stroke symptoms are not always immediately recognized, treatment is sometimes delayed. It’s important to bear in mind that the most effective stroke treatments are available only if the stroke is diagnosed and treatment begun within the first three hours of the first symptoms.
General risk factors
Family history of stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of physical activity, being overweight.
Risk factors unique or more common to women
• Migraine headaches with auras (feelings and/or symptoms you notice shortly before the headache begins). Note: Migraines can increase a woman’s stroke risk two and a half times. Most people in the U.S. who suffer from migraines are women.
• A history of preeclampsia, a condition whch includes a sudden, sharp rise in blood pressure during pregnancy.
• Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which combines taking both progestin and estrogen to relieve menopausal symptoms.
• Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease.
Stroke prevention tips for women over 55
• If you are a smoker, stop smoking.
• If you experience migraines with aura and are a smoker, stop smoking immediately.
• If you are over 75, you should be screened for atrial fibrillation (rapid, erratic heart beat).
• If you have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, consult your primary doctor for proper treatment.
• Increase physical activity.
Best diet for stroke prevention
• Eat whole grains, vegetables and fruits
• Eat foods low in saturated and trans fats
• Eat only moderate amounts of salt and sodium
• Drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation
• Maintain an optimal weight by balancing calories you take in with physical activity
This article has been reviewed by Patricia Bloom MD and Harrison Bloom MD, authors of the recently published book: Get Up and Move Your A**! A Light-Hearted But Serious Guide to Successful Aging. For more information, go to www.doctorsbloom.com.
For more information:
•stroke.org - women and strokes
•mayoclinic.org - stroke overview
•clevelandclinic.org - role of diet in strokes
•strokeassociation.org - TIA - mini strokes
•medicalnewstoday.com - what is preeclampsia
•lupus.org - what is lupus