Know the Signs of a Stroke: It Can Save Your Life, or the Life of Someone Else

While COVID-19 has certainly (and rightly so) gotten most of our health-related attention as of late, it is important that we take note that May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of long-term disability.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke is an accident to the brain that occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off. Blood flow to the brain carries oxygen and nutrients that keep the brain healthy and working well. When blood flow is absent, some of the brain tissue dies, resulting in a loss of function. The longer the blood flow is cut off, the more damage to the brain that will occur.

Types of Stroke

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a mini stroke, is a major warning sign. A TIA occurs when something temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain. People often don’t realize they’ve suffered a TIA. Since it doesn’t cause permanent damage, it is often ignored. However, this is a big mistake. TIAs may signal a full-blown stroke ahead.

Ischemic stroke, which account for about 87 percent of all strokes, happen when a clot interrupts blood flow to the brain. Clots are often caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits on the inner lining of a blood vessel. Unlike with a TIA, the clot doesn’t go away without treatment.

The most serious type is hemorrhagic stroke that results from a blood vessel in the brain rupturing and spilling blood into surrounding tissue. Surgery is often required to stop the bleeding or reduce brain pressure.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

The signs and symptoms of stroke can vary greatly from person to person. And they often come on suddenly.

Know the signs of a stroke and act F.A.S.T if you observe:

Face drooping

Arm weakness

Slurred speech or difficulty speaking

Time to quickly call 911 if someone is having a stroke.

Stroke Risks

Knowing the signs of stroke is critical, but so is prevention. While you can’t control certain risk factors, such as age or family history, you can make some lifestyle changes that could substantially reduce your risk of suffering a stroke. To reduce risks:

  • Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure causes the highest risk for stroke.
  • Control cholesterol.
  • Reduce blood sugar.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, low in saturated and trans fats and high fiber can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk.
  • Stay active. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Set a goal for at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the chance of having a stroke.
  • Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. A general guide is no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink for women.

Recovering from Stroke

Rehabilitation is key to helping patients rebuild their strength and overcome effects resulting from a stroke. Thibodaux Regional Rehabilitation Center offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services that include physical, occupational and speech therapy. Inpatient Rehabilitation services as well as the Stroke Specialty Program have received the highest accreditation from CARF.

For more information, call (985) 493-4731 for inpatient services, (985) 493-4782 for outpatient services or visit our website,