South Carolina ranks 4th in the nation for number of deaths due to strokes.
A stroke is often known as “the silent killer.” You may not notice any actual symptoms, but if you have high blook pressure, you are at increased risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Strokes are the 5th leading cause of death in the US. As you age, arteries can become clogged, narrowing the space for blood to flow. High blood pressure is a result, which can be exacerbated by certain medications, even birth control pills.
There are different types of strokes:
Ischemic Stroke: This is a blockage of blood to the brain. Usually it is caused by a blood clot in an artery, which becomes too narrow for any blood to pass through. The medical term for this is stenosis, which is caused by a build-up of blood clots and plaque – a mixture of fatty substances, including cholesterol.
Hermorrhagic Stroke: This is when blood bursts into the brain and interferes with the natural chemical balance of the brain.
Causes of Strokes:
High Blood Pressure – Also called, hypertension, is the largest cause of strokes. Blood pressure over 130/80 on a consistent basis is cause for alarm. You can get your blood pressure checked for free in grocery and drug stores.
Tobacco Use – Smoking or Chewing will raise you risk of stroke. The nicotine in these products cause fats to accumulate in your arteries and also thickens your blood. Secondhand smoke is just as bad for those around the smoker.
Heart Disease – Defective heart valves, atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) causes a quarter of strokes in the elderly. Because the heart is not functioning at fully capacity, the arteries also become clogged.
Diabetes – Adult-onset diabetics are usually overweight, which contribute to high blood pressure. Diabetes damages blood vessels, making stroke more likely. If your blood sugar is high, the injury to your brain is greater if you have a stroke.
Covid-19 has increased the stroke risk. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the risk is twice as high for Covid-19 patients when compared to people of the same ate, sex and ethnicity of the general population. (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2779040)
Warning Signs of Stroke:
Sometimes a stroke happens gradually, but you’re likely to have one or more sudden symptoms like these:
- Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
- Confusion or trouble understanding other people
- Difficulty speaking
- Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
- Problems walking or staying balanced or coordinated
- Severe headache that comes on for no reason
Use the FAST method to quickly determine if someone is having a stroke:
For more information and resources visit Stroke.org.