Answers to Common Stroke Questions

Premier Physician Network’s physicians answer frequently asked questions about stroke.

What happens to a person’s body when there is a stroke? Are there things that can be done to help prevent this?

A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery or when a blood vessel breaks, and blood flow to the brain is interrupted, according to the National Stroke AssociationOff Site Icon (NSA). When either of these things happen brain cells die, and the brain is damaged.

The brain damage causes a loss of abilities – including movement, speech and memory – controlled by certain areas of the brain, according to the NSA. The severity and location of the stroke can determine how much brain damage is caused by each stroke.

While everyone has some risk of stroke, some risk factors can be managed. The NSA recommends the following factors to help prevent a stroke:

  • Check for circulation problems
  • Control your diabetes
  • Cut down on sodium and fat in your diet
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation
  • Include exercise in your daily life
  • Keep blood pressure in control
  • Quit smoking
  • Work to lower your cholesterol

Risk factors such as age and family history are beyond your control, so following these guidelines is the best option for prevention a stroke, according to the NSA.

For more information about what happens during a stroke and stroke prevention, talk with your physician.

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What are some common symptoms of a stroke? Can those also indicate other medical issues or be misinterpreted?

There are warning signs and symptoms that indicate a stroke, according to the National Stroke AssociationOff Site Icon (NSA). Those symptoms include sudden:

  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, specifically on one side of the body
  • Severe headache for no known reason
  • Trouble walking, balance loss, coordination issues, dizziness
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes

Sometimes, stroke symptoms can seem like they are just symptoms of a migraine. If you are concerned about having a headache with any of these other symptoms, talk to your doctor right away to make sure it isn’t something worse than a migraine, according to the NSA.

For more information about stroke symptoms, talk with your physician.

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Are stroke and heart disease related?

Stroke and heart disease have some of the same risk factors, according to the National Stroke AssociationOff Site Icon(ASA).

According to the association, shared risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol levels
  • Low HDL cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking

Also, stroke and heart disease are related because each is a risk factor of the other. Various types of heart disease are risk factors for stroke, and stroke itself is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, according to the ASA.

For more information about how stroke and heart disease are related, talk with your doctor.

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How important is it for people to be aware of stroke symptoms and for a person to receive care quickly?

About 610,000 people have a stroke every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon. Because stroke is fairly common, especially among people with cardiovascular disease, it is very important for people to know the signs and symptoms.

One of the most important steps in helping someone who is having a stroke – including yourself – is getting the person medical help immediately, according to the National Stroke AssociationOff Site Icon (ASA).

Following the steps of FAST can help you remember the sudden, most common signs of a stroke, according to the ASA. FAST stands for:

F – Face drooping – Look for one side of the face to be droopy or numb. The person’s smile will be uneven.
A – Arm weakness – One arm will feel weak or numb, and if the person tries to lift their arms, one will start to fall down.
S – Speech difficulty – The person could have slurred speech, have a difficult time talking and could have trouble repeating sentences.
T – Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone is showing any of these symptoms, even if they go away, get the person to the hospital right away. Keep track of what time the first symptoms happened.

Knowing stroke symptoms and how to respond can make a huge difference to the person’s recovery process following the stroke, according to the CDC.

Talk to your physician for more information about the importance of knowing stroke symptoms and responding quickly if you think you are having a stroke.

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network doctors for answering these common questions about heart health:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician