Health – Early Warning Signs of a Stroke

Every 40 seconds – according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is how often someone in America has a stroke. At least 80 percent of these strokes are ischemic, which means an area of the brain dies after circulation of blood and oxygen to that area becomes blocked, either due to a clot or narrowing of blood vessels.

Someone dies as a result of a stroke every four minutes in the United States of America. Understanding stroke causes and risk factors is paramount for prevention. But when stroke prevention won’t do and the unthinkable occurs, seek medical help ASAP … and research suggests there may be warning signs of an impending stroke hours or days in advance.

Many people have heard of the acronym BE FAST as a way to remember the sudden warning signs of stroke. The earlier a stroke victim receives medical care, the better chances they have of recovery, so everyone should be aware of these warning symptoms:

  • Balance difficulties
  • Eye blindness (sometimes accompanied by a severe headache)
  • Face drooping
  • Arm or leg weakness
  • Speech and communication problems (words are garbled or slurred)
  • Time (call 911)

Amazingly, research published in 2005 by the American Academy of Neurology found that these warning signs may present in some ischemic stroke sufferers up to a week before their actual stroke occurs!

The phenomenon is due to something known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. TIAs are considered “mini-strokes” because they can lead to similar symptoms, but only last about five minutes and cause no permanent injury to the brain.

Researchers of the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology, determined that out of 2,400 stroke sufferers, over one in five had TIAs before their stroke actually happened. In most cases, the mini-strokes happened within a week prior.

Strokes are incredibly common, and with the aging of our population many health experts expect we will only see more people suffer their life-changing effects in the future. The good news, however, is that many of the major stroke causes are preventable.

Here are five key things you can do, according to the CDC and other organizations, for reducing your risk of stroke:

  1. Get enough sleep – anywhere from 7 to 9 hours per night on average. One study found that getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night significantly increases a person’s risk of stroke and heart disease.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Don’t smoke. Someone who smokes 20 cigarettes per day is six times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t smoke at all, according to the UK’s Stroke Association.
  4. Stay physically active. Regular exercise is considered an independent risk factor of stroke, but it also reduces other stroke causes such as obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic stress.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet. Avoid processed foods, eating plenty of fruits and veggies.

In addition, many integrative healthcare providers emphasize the importance of increasing your intake of antioxidants like, vitamin C to protect the health of your circulation.

Excerpts from