In the October 16, 2023 issue of Advanced Natural Wellness you learned the warning signs of a heart attack or impending cardiac arrest.
But how do you tell these apart from a stroke?
Well, there are a lot of misconceptions about strokes. Many people believe they are very similar to a cardiac event. While both are related to vascular issues, that’s where the similarities begin and end.
Whereas a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest both affect the heart, strokes affect the brain.
The most common type of stroke is ischemic. These types of strokes occur when blockages in the form of blood clots or plaque reduce blood flow to the brain. Less frequent are hemorrhagic stokes, which are a result of brain bleeds caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.
And unlike a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest, it is unlikely you will have any warning signs before having a stroke. They are something that strike out of the blue, and hit you like a ton of bricks.
Symptoms can include numbness or weakness in an arm, leg or the face (face drooping) – especially on only one side of the body.
Strokes are also more likely to make you feel dizzy, confused and have trouble speaking or understanding words. Blurred vision, loss of coordination and severe headache with nausea are also common in stroke.
As far as the differences between men and women are concerned, symptoms are pretty similar. But they may be less pronounced in women.
This means that, once again, women’s concerns may be dismissed by medical professionals – another important reason for women to demand treatment when doctors are saying “No.”
But, by far, the most important thing here is that, without immediate medical treatment, the long-term damage caused by a stroke can be horrific.
When Do You Need Medical Assistance?
My heart always goes out to stroke patients. One minute they’re perfectly fine. The next thing they know they are waking up in the hospital in complete confusion.
Then the recovery process starts… rediscovering language skills and re-training your body to cooperate with simple movements. It’s a very scary experience that nobody wants to go through in their lifetime.
However, if you get immediate medical attention, it’s entirely possible that you could make a full recovery and go on to live a long, active and healthy life.
So calling 911 at the first signs of a stroke is crucial. That’s where the F.A.S.T. acronym comes in handy.
- Facial drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
If there is any doubt at all that you are having a stroke, lift both of your arms up over your head and stick out your tongue.
If your arms don’t lift equally or if you can’t stick your tongue straight out, you’re having a stroke.
DO NOT call your doctor to ask what to do. DO NOT call a family member or neighbor to come over and check on you.
DO pick up the phone and immediately dial 911.
And by the way. Let’s not forget about mini strokes, or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). These are temporary disruptions of blood flow to the brain and usually only last a few minutes.
The symptoms are similar to a stroke, but pass quickly. So they are often dismissed as some weird little “something-or-other” and quickly forgotten about.
Well, that’s a mistake, because while TIAs don’t generally cause permanent damage to the brain, they are one of the very few early warning signs of an upcoming full-on stroke.
So even though TIAs are short-lived, it is in your best interest to go in for a full work-up if you ever experience one.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Early detection and prevention are always better than the alternative. And despite common belief, strokes are entirely preventable. In fact, many of the root issues that cause stroke are directly under your control. You probably already know several of them, but I’ll run down the list for you…
Poor diet. Physical inactivity. Obesity. Uncontrolled high blood pressure. Poorly maintained diabetes. Smoking. Excessive alcohol intake.
In other words, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and dropping those excess pounds will go a long way in reducing your risk. So will taking control of your blood pressure and/or diabetes. And we all know we will be healthier in the long run if we give up tobacco and alcohol.
Believe me… It is always more desirable to stop a stroke from happening in the first place than to experience one firsthand!
Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Anderson CAM, Arora P, Avery CL, Baker-Smith CM, Beaton AZ, Boehme AK, Buxton AE, Commodore-Mensah Y, Elkind MSV, Evenson KR, Eze-Nliam C, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023 Feb 21;147(8):e93-e621.
Stoke Causes and Risk Factors. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Last updated on May 26, 2023.