Reminders of what you should know about strokes

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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By Ron Kauffman

Senior Lifestyles


Strokes are one of the leading causes of death among older Americans. Most of us understand that a heart attack happens when there is a disruption of blood flow to the heart which causes death to the area of the heart deprived of oxygen.

A stroke is a “brain attack” that occurs when either too much blood or too little blood disrupts blood flow to part of the brain depriving the brain tissue of necessary oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes brain cells begin to die and the result is a loss of brain function.

While devastating, the good news is that brain damage from strokes can be minimized when treated promptly, usually within the first sixty minutes. Sadly, it’s common to mistake signs of a stroke for other health problems and delays treatment allowing the damage to get much worse quickly.

There are several types of stroke that present a wide range of symptoms:

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A TIA is an early warning that a stroke (also called a brain attack) may be coming. A TIA is a temporary stroke and typically causes no long lasting damage. But the effects of a stroke, if it happens, can be very serious and lasting. If you think you are having symptoms of a TIA or stroke, even if they don’t last, call 911 and get medical help immediately.

Ischemic Stroke

An Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery that supplies blood to the brain is greatly narrowed or blocked. This can be caused by a buildup of plaque, or can also occur when small pieces of plaque also called a blood clot break off into the bloodstream.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

A Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain bursts, spilling blood into the surrounding tissue. This type of stroke often happens suddenly, with little or no warning, and is one of the most serious types of strokes.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain ruptures allowing blood to spill directly into nearby brain tissue which damages the brain cells. Other brain cells die because the rupture cuts off their normal blood supply.

Risk factors for Stroke

Certain health and lifestyle issues increase your chances of having a stroke. The leading risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, but there are many other factors that also put you at risk including smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. Risk factors differ for each person.

Effects of a Stroke on the Brain and Body: When the blood supply is cut off from the brain, cells begin to die from a lack of oxygen. Within minutes, skills such as reasoning, speech, and arm or leg movement may be lost. The type of skills and the amount of functional loss depends on which part of the brain was affected and how much brain tissue was damaged.

Preventing another Stroke with a healthier lifestyle: Breaking old habits can be hard. But when your health is at stake, it’s never too late to make changes to improve your health. Of course while making some changes may be easy to do, others like weight loss and stopping smoking can be challenging. If you need help, talk with your health care provider, your life may depend on it.

Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. Contact him at 828-696-9799 or by email at: