Stroke: Warning Signs You Need To Know

Stroke: Warning Signs

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 May 2022

Strokes, Does It Concern Me?

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in men (and the third leading cause of death in women), but most men are unable to identify even one stroke symptom. Here's how to pinpoint and prevent them.

If you're like many middle-aged men, you probably wouldn't worry about having a stroke too much. Strokes, after all, are a concern we correlate with later stages of life, something to be cautious with once we retire and grow older.

But perhaps we ought to be more concerned. After all, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in men, just behind heart disease, cancer, and accidents. They are more common in men over the age of 65, although they may occur at any age. Strokes are also more probable to be fatal in men compared to women, and they strike earlier in men.

A stroke may have devastating consequences. Not only can a stroke cause death, but nonfatal strokes can leave you gravely debilitated, paralysed, or unable to speak.

The news isn't always bad, however. The National Stroke Foundation estimates that 80% of all strokes are preventable. But now is the moment to change your chances. If you're at risk, you can learn the symptoms of a stroke and make some lifestyle changes.

What is a stroke?

Strokes may be divided into two categories.

  • Ischaemic strokes: Strokes of this type are the most common. When a blood clot blocks an artery, oxygen to an area of the brain is cut off. Brain cells that are deprived of oxygen go into shock and eventually die. As a result, the further you go without treatment after a stroke, the worse the damage to your brain becomes.
    Transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs or “mini-strokes") are stroke symptoms that just last a few minutes and therefore do not result in a full-blown stroke. That will be discussed later.
  • Haemorrhagic strokes: These strokes are less common, but they may be more destructive. They're the product of a brain haemorrhage (a blood vessel burst). While the cause is distinctive from an ischaemic stroke, the outcome is the same: brain cells are deprived of oxygen. A haemorrhagic  stroke kills more than 60% of people within a year, and those who endure are also severely disabled.
Prevention of Stroke

Controlling elevated blood pressure is the best way to avoid hemorrhagic strokes. Your blood vessels are less likely to burst when there is less strain on the walls.

Blood clots, the same villains that cause cardiac problems, are the most common cause of ischaemic strokes. Plaque, the gunk that builds up in arteries which causes clotting, must be kept out of your arteries to reduce the complications. This can be deployed in a number of ways, including:

  • Exercising for at least half an hour at least 5 times a week;
  • Eating well — ideally a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and minimal in saturated fat (found in processed meats);
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight;
  • Not smoking — smokers are twice as likely to have a stroke compared to non-smokers

Certain heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, which leads the heart to function less optimally than it should, may contribute to clots leading to strokes. High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol also contribute to an increased risk. If you have either of these issues, you'll need to manage them by lifestyle adjustments or medication. Low-dose aspirin can lower the risk of stroke, although it does not benefit younger men who are still at low risk of stroke. Before beginning aspirin medication, consult your doctor.

Some stroke risk factors, such as aging and having a family background, are inevitable. Therefore, implementing lifestyle improvements may have a significant beneficial impact.

Treatment

The type of stroke determines the specific type of treatment. ischaemic strokes will be treated with medications such as clot busters (thrombolytics) if they are detected early enough. Clot busters eliminate clots easily, restoring blood supply to the affected area and protecting brain cells.

Haemorrhagic strokes are difficult to treat; much of the time, it's only a matter of waiting for the bleeding to end on its own. Haemorrhagic strokes may sometimes be treated with surgery or other procedures.

The most challenging part of treating strokes is identifying them early. Clot-busters must be administered within a few hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.

You'll probably require continued treatment when you recover from a stroke, which may take some time. The issue is that experiencing one stroke increases your chances of having more. If you've ever had an ischaemic stroke, your doctor may suggest blood thinners, which prevent your blood from clotting. Stents can also be surgically implanted to unclog an artery.

Warning Signs

We are very under-informed regarding strokes, despite the fact that it is such a common killer of men. A third of all men are unable to point out a single symptom of a stroke. Become familiar with the symptoms of a stroke. If you have some of the following stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness, particularly on only one side of the body;
  • Sudden confusion;
  • Difficulty communicating or understanding speech;
  • Trouble with vision;
  • Struggle with walking or maintaining balance
Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIAs)

We should even mention a few things about transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs), also known as “mini-strokes." TIAs cause the same effects as a stroke, but they're so fleeting (usually within a few minutes), and less than 24 hours, that they don't cause long-term brain damage.

However, no matter how easily the signs of a stroke fade, they can never be neglected. A TIA significantly raises the chances of developing a full-fledged stroke. Your doctor will likely start treating you right away.

Stroke symptoms can never be taken lightly. Do not disregard them. Get to an emergency department as soon as possible. Every minute matters when it comes to stroke treatment.

Source:

Referenced on  10.4.2021

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians: “Stroke: Warning Signs and Tips for Prevention." 
  2. Stephan A. Mayer, MD. 
  3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “NINDS Stroke Information Page." 
  4. National Stroke Association: “Public Stroke Prevention Guidelines" and “Women and Stroke."
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Brain Attack."
  6. WebMD Medical News: “Men More Likely to Die from a Stroke" and “Aspirin Benefit Differs for Men and Women." 
  7. WebMD Medical Reference: “Transient ischaemic Attack."
  8. https://www.webmd.com/men/strokes-what-every-man-needs-know

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