Did you know that people with diabetes are one and a half times more likely to suffer a stroke than those without? A stroke is a common medical condition, with around 800,000 people suffering a stroke each year. It’s also the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know about stroke, stroke symptoms, and how to prevent it.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is temporarily cut off, causing brain tissue to die. A stroke can happen quickly, or it can also develop over days. The effects can range from minor to major.
An ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, in which a blood clot or other blockage occurs that cuts off the supply of blood to the brain. Other types of stroked include hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as ministroke. The symptoms of ministrokes can sometimes be mistaken for migraines or seizures, so it’s important to see a doctor to be sure. Ministrokes put you at greater risk for having a stroke in the future.
To recognize if a stroke is occurring, look out for the following signs:
- Facial droop
- Weakness or numbness in arm, hand, or leg
- Numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking or comprehending others’ speech
- Sudden vision loss
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Inability to lift both arms
- Sudden, lasting, intense headache
To remember the primary signs quickly, there’s the FAST acronym: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.
Certain rarer symptoms often occur in women, such as nausea, vomiting, fainting, hiccups, face and limb pain, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Remember that if you notice these signs, don’t wait. Call 911 immediately to get the person medical help.
People who have experienced a stroke should go to the hospital within three hours to receive a medication that can dissolve blood clots. If a stroke is not addressed quickly, then there can be adverse side effects, such as:
- Paralysis or partial paralysis
- Memory loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty with language, thinking, and speech
- Pain, numbness, and tingling
- Bladder or bowel control problems
- Mood changes
A recovery plan with possible surgery and medications, along with physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help the sufferer get back to normal in some cases.
What you can do
To decrease your chance of stroke as well as keep your blood pressure under control, you can make certain lifestyle changes that will put you in a healthier place.
- Eat less salt and fat
- Choose fish instead of red meat
- Eat less foods with added sugar
- Increase your intake of beans, veggies, and nuts
- Eat whole grain bread
Since having diabetes puts you at higher risk for stroke, it’s very important to follow your doctor’s plan and try to eliminate lifestyle factors that are putting you at greater risk.