Risk factors for stroke, warning signs and how to recognize it

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced or interrupted. This prevents the brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients required for functioning and consequently the brain cells begin to die.

It is a medical emergency and hence requires prompt treatment as this will help reduce brain damage and other complications that may follow.


Risk factors for stroke

The risk factors for developing stroke can be grouped into two (2)

  • Non modifiable(non controllable)
  • Modifiable(controllable)

Non modifiable risk factors are – age, sex, family history

Modifiable risk factors

  • high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking
  • diabetes
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • heavy drinking
  • a diet high in fat (particularly saturated) and salt, but low in fiber, fruit, and vegetables
  • lack of regular exercise
  • obesity

Warning signs for stroke

According to a study of stroke patients published in the March 8, 2005 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, the warning signs of an ischemic stroke may be evident as early as seven days before an attack and require urgent treatment to prevent serious damage to the brain.

The acronym FAST is used to help detect and enhance responsiveness to the needs of a person having a stroke. FAST is described as;

Facial drooping

Arm weakness

Speech difficulties

Time to call emergency services

If any of the above happens, it requires immediate attention and healthcare should be sort for as soon as possible

Other signs and symptoms of stroke

The symptoms below can be a warning of imminent stroke especially if you have risk factors for stroke

  • Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
  • Confusion or trouble understanding other people
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Problems walking or staying balanced or coordinated
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache that comes on for no reason

If you have these symptoms consult your doctor. Early treatment is paramount to treatment


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