EmpowHER has received some really interesting questions recently about stroke. What is a stroke? Are there different kinds of stroke? How do I know if someone is having a stroke?
These are all great questions about a health care issue that will affect many of us -- as stroke victims ourselves or as carers of loved ones who have been through one.
Read this ASK and answer from EmpowHER Guide Maryann Gromisch, RN.
So what is a stroke and why is it so urgent to get immediate care?
EmpowHER describes a stroke as a brain injury. It occurs when the brain's blood supply is interrupted. Without oxygen and nutrients from blood, brain tissue dies quickly, in less than 10 minutes. This causes a sudden function loss.
There are many reasons why a stroke can happen.
It can be due to a blood clot, it can happen to cancer victims, pregnant women and people with heart disease or who've recently had an injury. It can also happen to someone who has had a blood hemorrhage around the brain.
Many stokes come out of the blue. But there are certain risk factors too. These include:
- High blood pressure (the number one risk factor for ischemic stroke)
- High blood homocysteine level
- Drug abuse (heroin, cocaine , amphetamines)
- Narrowing of arteries supplying the brain due to atherosclerosis
- High cholesterol levels , particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
- Diabetes mellitus
- Atrial fibrillation (abnormality of heart rhythm)
- Use of birth control pills if you are over 35 years old and smoke
- Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
Why is it so necessary to get help immediately following a stroke?
Certain conditions, even cancers, can be treated over time. Stroke is not one of these conditions. Because (as mentioned above), the brain starts to deteriorate within 10 minutes, and because permanent injury, even death, can happen shortly after that time span, time is of the essence.