Did you know that almost 80 percent of premature strokes and heart disease are preventable?¹ And yet each year, Canadians suffer more than 62,000 strokes ̶ that is one stroke every nine minutes.² You can prevent a stroke by knowing the risk factors and taking steps to eliminate unhealthy habits and adopt healthier lifestyle choices.
With nine in 10 Canadians having at least one risk factor for stroke or heart disease³, it is time to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the condition.
WHAT IS STROKE?
A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to an area of your brain, leading to cell damage in that area. There are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhage. In ischemic strokes, blood flow is stopped by a clot or blockage in the blood vessels of your brain. With hemorrhagic strokes, high blood pressure causes weakened arteries to break open, leading to an interruption in blood flow to the brain. Recovery can greatly depend on where and what type of stroke you have had.
STROKE RISK FACTORS
The good news is that small, healthy changes in your daily routine can decrease your risk for a stroke or prevent a stroke altogether. Knowing where to start is half the battle and your healthcare team, including your family doctor, your physiotherapist, kinesiologist, massage therapist or exercise physiologist can all help you figure out what risk factors you should focus on and set realistic goals that you can work towards with an action plan.
- Unhealthy diet
- Not enough exercise
- Unhealthy weight
- Smoking tobacco cigarettes
- Too much alcohol or recreational drugs
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STROKE
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada uses the acronym FAST to help recognize the signs of stroke.
F – is there Facial drooping?
Ask the person to smile. If one side of their face is drooping and the other isn’t, they may have suffered a stroke.
A – can you raise both Arms?
Ask the person to lift their arms above their head. Does one arm drift downward? This is a sign they may have suffered a stroke.
S – is their Speech slurred or jumbled?
Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred, or mumbled and hard to understand? It might be the sign of a stroke.
T – Time to call 911 right away.
A stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is showing any of the major signs of a stroke, seek medical treatment immediately. If you seek treatment within 3 hours of a stroke, you have a higher chance at a full recovery. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. Call for an ambulance or have someone else drive you.
It is important to note that these are not the only signs and symptoms that can occur with a stroke. Depending on the location of the stroke, a person can experience: difficulty with their balance, headache, trouble seeing, and/or nausea.
If you have more questions about how to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent a stroke, please contact us.
¹ Heart & Stroke Canada
² Stroke Best Practices Report
³ Heart & Stroke Canada