A stroke occurs when blood flow is disrupted to the brain, either by a blood clot or a broken blood vessel. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.
The National Stroke Association (NSA) states that African Americans are the largest group to suffer from stroke. Also, African Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke, and tend to develop them at an earlier age compared to Caucasians. Higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity in African Americans are some of the factors believed to be behind the increased risk.
A stroke usually starts with numbness on one half of the body. It is very important to know the signs of a stroke. The earlier you can get medical care, the more you can prevent death and disability.
According to the NSA, to detect warning signs of a stroke it is important to remember the acronym “FAST”. FAST stands for face, arms, speech and time. Stroke symptoms include:
- 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.
If you or someone around you experiences any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Healthy lifestyle choices are important to help prevent stroke. A healthy diet and weight, routine exercise, not smoking, and cutting down alcohol use can make a difference.
For more information on strokes:
- Centers for Disease Control
- National Stroke Association
- American Stroke Association
- American Heart Association