A Stroke is commonly classified into three types. They are as follows:
- transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- ischemic stroke
- hemorrhagic stroke
Even though stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, many of us are unaware of the distinction between the three types of stroke and their associated symptoms.
In this article we focus on the ischemic stroke. It is the most common type of stroke that people have. In fact, close to 90% of strokes are ischemic.
Below you’ll learn about what it is, the signs of an ischemic stroke and the key risk factors for having one.
What Is Ischemic Stroke?
An ischemic stroke occurs when the arteries surrounding the brain become blocked. The blood supply to a portion of the brain is cut off or reduced, thereby depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients.
An ischemic stroke is defined by the abrupt cessation of blood flow to a portion of the brain, resulting in a loss of neurologic function.
Reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain results in brain cell damage or death. If circulation is not restored promptly, permanent brain damage may result.
Every minute counts during a stroke, and immediate treatment is critical for survival. Prompt intervention can also help prevent brain damage and other complications.
The good news is that Americans are dying of a stroke at a much lower rate today than in the past. Effective treatments can also help prevent stroke-related disability.
Signs of an Ischemic Stroke
Strokes can be fatal, so it is critical to seek medical attention immediately if symptoms develop. The specific symptoms of an ischemic stroke vary according to the brain region affected. Ischemic stroke symptoms frequently manifest on one side of the body and progress rapidly.
Certain symptoms are common in the majority of ischemic strokes, including the following:
- vision problems like blindness in one eye or double vision
- limb weakness or paralysis on one or both sides, depending on the affected artery
- dizziness and vertigo
- inability to coordinate
- facial drooping on one side
Once symptoms begin, it is critical to seek treatment immediately. This decreases the likelihood of permanent damage.
The American Stroke Association (ASA) advises people to remember the acronym F.A.S.T. This abbreviation means:
F = Face – You will be asked to grin throughout the Face test. This is an indication if one side of your face droops.
A = Arms – You must raise both arms during the Arms test. This is done to see if one of your arms may fall down.
S = Speech – You will give a short speech during the Speech test. This is to see if your speech is sluggish or unusual.
T = Test – If all of your tests come back positive, it’s time to seek treatment. It is advisable to get treatment for a stroke as soon as possible.
Risk Factors For Ischemic Stroke
The major risk factors for ischemic stroke are the same as those for carotid artery disease. Circulatory problems are the primary cause of ischemic stroke. This is because they raise the risk of blood clots and fatty deposits, which could block the blood supply to the brain. Risk factors of an ischemic stroke include:
- high blood pressure
- overweight or obese
- unhealthy diet
- sedentary lifestyle
- heavy alcohol dependence
- use of certain drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamines
- high cholesterol
- atrial fibrillation
- prior heart attack
- sickle cell anemia
- clotting disorders
- congenital heart defects
- Being 55 years of age or over
- African Americans have higher chances of experiencing ischemic stroke compared to other races or ethnic groups
Remember, an ischemic stroke is a medical emergency, and it needs immediate treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing the signs and symptoms of an ischemic stroke, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.