Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Stroke - Do You Know The Warning Signs?

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The commercials on TV lately that say - "we care - know the signs of a stroke" - have really annoyed me, so I had to go find out what the signs of a stroke are, and teach them to my children, using the acronym "FAST." Face (numbness); Arm (weakness); Speech (Slurred), and Test (Act fast to get a test).

The symptoms of a stroke are sudden:
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, sometimes only on one side;
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech;
  • Trouble seeing;
  • Trouble walking or dizziness; loss of balance or coordination;and
  • Severe headache with no known cause.
Did you know that each year in the United States there are more than 700,000 strokes? Stroke is actually the third leading cause of death in the country, and nearly 3/4s of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. This may shake you up - the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

For African American, strokes are more common, and more deadly. Everyone can help prevent strokes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle including daily exercise, plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, not smoking, managing diabetes and high blood glucose with diet, exercise, and medications, keeping blood pressure under control, and maintaining a healthy weight.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops because it is blocked by a clot. here are two types of stroke - an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot plugging he blood vessel, and a hemorrhagic stroke, which is when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain. Both deprive the brain of blood, and brain cells start dying off immediately.

Everyone has a better chance of benefiting from treatment if they arrive at a hospital within 60 minutes after symptoms start, so knowing the symptoms of a stroke and calling 911 are critical! Stroke damage to the brain can cause paralysis, trouble thinking and speaking, and even emotional problems. If you suspect a stroke, act FAST!

Photo credit: greefus groinks

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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