Recognizing and preventing stroke before it occurs

Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke or heart disease

The Neuro is a specialized stroke treatment centre. Its stroke Receiving Area provides rapid care to incoming patients, and its team of neurosurgeons, nurses, technologists and other health professionals work together to diagnose and treat stroke, saving lives and preventing loss of brain function.

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true, especially in the case of stroke. June is Stroke Awareness Month, and it’s important to understand what a stroke is, its warning signs and how to prevent it, with the help of some facts from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a stoppage or interruption in the flow of blood to any part of the brain. Brain cells cannot survive without the oxygen blood delivers. It takes only a few minutes without oxygen for brain cells to start dying, which can cause permanent brain damage and even death.

What are the types of stroke?

There are three basic types of stroke:

  • An ischemic stroke is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents flow
  • A hemorrhagic stroke is a brain bleed that puts pressure on surrounding tissue and can interrupt the flow of blood.
  • A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is when a clot blocks an artery for a small amount of time. Also known as a mini-stroke, the symptoms last less than an hour usually. Like the other types of strokes, TIA is a medical emergency. If you experience symptoms, call 911.

What are the signs of stroke?

FAST is an acronym to memorize in advance to understand if you or someone near you is having a stroke. It stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time. Is the Face drooping? Can the person raise his or her Arms? Is Speech slurred? If any of these are true, it’s Time to call 911.

How do I know if I’m at risk of stroke?

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of a stroke include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, heavy alcohol consumption, obesity and a high-fat diet.

How do I prevent stroke?

Almost 80 per cent of stroke and heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle changes, and many of these choices have other positive health benefits. Quitting smoking, getting exercise and eating healthy reduces risk of stroke. Avoiding heavy drinking, stress and recreational drugs can also help people avoid stroke.

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The Neuro is a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.

 

 

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