Prompt assessment and treatment during a stroke is vital.
Over the course of one year, the average person loses the function of about two million brain cells as part of the normal aging process. During a stroke, two million brain cells are lost every minute. That’s why prompt assessment and treatment during a stroke is vitally important.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients into the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. This prevents the brain from receiving oxygen, which is carried in the blood, and causes an immediate loss of certain body functions. If blood flow is not re-established quickly, brain cells begin to die and those cells can no longer perform their functions.
Know the stroke warning signs—and act quickly.
Be on alert for the potential signs and symptoms of stroke and know what to do using the F-A-S-T acronym:
- Face: Sudden weakness in the face, like an uneven smile or trouble seeing
- Arm: Any arm or leg weakness or loss of coordination
- Speech: Changes in speech, such as slurring of words or difficulty speaking or confusion
- Time: Time is of the essence, any of these symptoms should prompt you to call 9-1-1
It is important to note that these symptoms are often noticed only on one side of the body.
If you notice any of these signs, call for help immediately.
Stroke is a brain attack and, just like a heart attack, is a medical emergency. Seeking immediate treatment can mean the difference between regaining the lost function(s) and dealing with life-long disabilities. The window for stroke medication is three to four and a half hours. Time is truly of the essence when it comes to stroke.
Prevent stroke with lifestyle changes.
Many strokes are preventable. It is important to have regular check-ups with your primary care provider to discuss your health and be aware of any potential risks.
Risk factors for stroke include:
- Heart disease
- Previous stroke/mini stroke
- Family history
- Excessive alcohol use
Many of these risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle changes. No matter your health history, follow these tips to keep stroke at bay:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit alcohol
- Do not smoke
Michael Whitehurst is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with the Neuroscience Team at Chesapeake Regional Healthcare. He has worked within the neuroscience field as a critical care nurse at CRMC for several years prior to obtaining his Master's of Science Degree in Nursing in 2019. He is a member of the Neurocritical Care Society, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses.