Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – When it comes to stroke, it is important to act quickly.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the brain wastes wasted time. Every minute counts.”
Stroke is a serious and emergency medical condition that can lead to disability or even death if not treated quickly, said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of medical cardiology and cardiology at the National Jewish Health Foundation.
Stroke is common, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 40 seconds a stroke occurs in the United States.
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland Democrats announced Sunday that he had suffered a “minor stroke.”
On the same day, John Fetterman, Governor of the State of Pennsylvania in the United States, announced that he was recovering from a stroke.
In light of this news – and National Stroke Awareness Month – experts are urging the public to learn more about the symptoms of stroke so they can identify them and seek medical help in advance.
What is a stroke?
“It’s usually a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain,” Freeman explained.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it means that something is blocking the flow of blood to the brain or that the blood vessel in the brain is ruptured.
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked by particles such as clots or fat deposits called plaques.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that when a cerebral artery rupture or rupture occurs, it is called a hemorrhagic stroke.
Sometimes blood flow is blocked for only a short time – usually a maximum of five minutes – this is called a TIA or ‘mini-stroke’.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that these could be a warning sign of medical emergencies and future strokes.
What happens to the brain?
When blood flow is cut off by a stroke, brain cells cannot get the oxygen and nutrients they need. According to the Mayo Clinic team, the cells may die within minutes.
What to look for
According to the Mayo Clinic, stroke is often characterized by sudden, severe headaches, visual impairments in one or both eyes, difficulty walking, numbness or numbness of the face or limbs, and difficulty in speaking or understanding others.
Experts use the abbreviation FAST (face, arms, speech and time to talk to a doctor) to describe what to do in the event of a stroke.
First, smile to see if one side of the person’s face is falling, then ask them to raise their hands – notice if they can not raise one hand.
Second, check for strange or ambiguous speech by asking them to repeat a simple phrase.
The Mayo Clinic said that if any of those requests raise concerns, seek emergency medical help immediately.
How to treat a stroke
Treatment and recovery depends on the severity of the stroke and how quickly the patient receives medical treatment.
Small strokes can have less impact, but bigger strokes can change a person’s life a lot, Freeman said.
At the site of a stroke, he said, it could affect whether a person needs to learn to walk or talk again while recovering.
“If you can get to the hospital within the allotted time, you can get life-saving treatments such as anticoagulants or the process of restoring blood flow,” said Jenny Tawi, head of the Department of Neurology and Behavior. Health at the National Jewish Foundation for Health.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, but they are treatable, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If you have had a stroke, going to a hospital or medical facility immediately can dramatically improve the outcome by quickly restoring blood flow,” Freeman said.
How to prevent stroke
Freeman explained that high blood pressure, age and history of vascular events are significant risk factors for stroke.
Tawi noted that diabetes and excessive alcohol consumption increase the risk of stroke.
There are 6 actions that Freeman recommends that people take not only to prevent stroke, but also to prevent other vascular risks.
“The same measures that prevent heart disease can also prevent cerebrovascular disease,” he noted, adding that it is important to stop smoking to reduce the risks.
To reduce plaque formation, Freeman often recommends a full-fat diet, exercising 30 minutes a day (until your doctor considers it safe), reducing stress and getting enough sleep.
He also said that adults need an average of 7 hours of continuous sleep each night.
Finally, Freeman said building a network of love and support is important for your health, and “those with more loving, supportive and strong social networks … end up with less heart disease.”