Summary Overview

Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Spokane County. Modifying risk factors for stroke can greatly reduce the risk of having a stroke and the severity of its outcomes. Risk factors for stroke, such as physical inactivity, hypertension, and smoking are also risk factors for other chronic health conditions.


Basics

What is stroke?
  • A stroke, often times called a brain attack, happens when a blot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing brain tissue to die
  • During a stroke, brain cells die immediately due to lack of oxygen after the interruption of brain flow
  • Sudden bleeding in the brain will also cause a stroke and eventual damage to brain cells
  • A stroke can lead to permanent brain damage, disability or even death
What happens during a stroke?
  • During a stroke, brain cells die immediately due to lack of oxygen after the interruption of brain flow
  • Sudden bleeding in the brain will also cause a stroke and eventual damage to brain cells
  • A stroke can lead to permanent brain damage, disability or even death
Types of strokes:
  • Ischemic stroke (85% of strokes) - the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. Usually, blood clots cause the blockages that lead to ischemic strokes. 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke- occurs when an artery in the brain leaks blood or breaks open (ruptures). The leaked blood puts unnecessary pressure on brain cells therefore damaging them.  
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (“mini-stroke”) - a TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke and still considered a medical emergency.
Risk factors:
  • Anyone, including children can have a stroke
  • Age, sex and ethnicity can increase your risk for stroke, see link for specific details: http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/risk_factors.htm
  • Unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not exercising
  • High cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes
Signs and symptoms:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg. Especially if you’re experiencing it on only one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache

Signs & Symptoms of a Stroke


Spokane or Washington Specific Data


Recommendations

If you see someone with any of the above symptoms:

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

  • Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke
  • Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the most effective treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
  • If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.1 and do the following simple test:
    • F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
    • A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
    • S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
    • T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. Some treatments for stroke only work if given in the first 3 hours after symptoms appear. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Tips for stroke prevention:
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do physical exercise and be active
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Prevent or treat other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes

Related Facts

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.

CDC Stroke Fact Sheet

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