A stroke is a heart attack of the brain. Just like lack of blood flow to the heart causes muscle loss, chest pain, and arrhythmias, lack of blood flow to the brain causes weakness, slurred speech, and paralysis. This happens to 800,000 Americans a year and causes nearly 140,000 deaths. That is why May is National Stroke Prevention Month.
Yes, we can decrease the risk of stroke and we can decrease the damage from stroke. Risks of stroke are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking cigarettes. We ought to control those. Damage from stroke comes from prolonged loss of blood flow to the brain. We can reduce that time by recognizing the signs of stroke and getting an affected person to an emergency room STAT.
That is because the earlier a patient is brought in after the start of the symptoms of a stroke, the more they are eligible for thrombolytic therapy. Thrombolytic therapy are “clot busters” first used in acute heart attacks to open blocked vessels. They also work in strokes. But you have to be early (between 4-6 hours according to some) as the risks start to outweigh the benefits after that.