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Stroke 101: Everything You Need to Know

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Stroke 101: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding & Identifying a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. And every 4 minutes, someone in the United States dies from a stroke. With such shockingly high statistics, it's important that you arm yourself with the right information to protect yourself from this cardiovascular event.

Types of Strokes

Ischemic Stroke

Accounting for 90% of strokes, ischemic strokes happen when there is an obstruction or blockage in the blood vessels, preventing blood flow to the brain. Typically, these obstructions are caused by cerebral thrombosis or cerebral embolism.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are often called “mini strokes.” This is because they are brought on by temporary obstructions of blood flow to the brain, leading to much less damage compared to ischemic stroke. However, they should be taken seriously because they can lead to ischemic stroke in the future if left untreated and unaddressed.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Lastly, hemorrhagic strokes happen when blood vessels become weak and burst, causing blood to leak into the area surrounding the brain. Eventually, this leads to compression of the brain tissue. Hemorrhagic strokes can occur within the brain or at the surface of the brain.

Risk Factors

Smoking Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products

Like many other cardiovascular health issues, smoking and using tobacco products leaves you at an increased risk for having a stroke. This is because cigarette smoke and nicotine increase your blood pressure while simultaneously reducing the amount of oxygen being circulated in your blood.

Secondhand smoke also leaves you at a higher risk of stroke and other cardiovascular events.

Leading an Inactive Lifestyle

Although it’s alright to relax every now and then, sedentary behavior can be detrimental to your cardiovascular health. When you spend a lot of time sitting, lying down, and relaxing, it can also leave you at an increased risk of experiencing a stroke.

Unhealthy Diet

The foods you eat impact almost every area of your health, including your cardiovascular system. When you eat a diet that is high in thefollowing foods, it can increase your risk of stroke:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Salt

Getting Older

As we continue to age, our risk for developing certain health conditions increases, including the risk of stroke. In fact, most strokes occur in people who are over the age of 65.

Family History

When you have a close family member who has had a stroke, you're at a significantly higher risk of having one yourself. If your parent, grandparent, or sibling has experienced a stroke, especially before the age of 65, you’re at an increased risk of having a stroke.

Being a Woman

Women have a unique set of risk factors that leave them more likely to have a stroke than men. These factors include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Migraines with aura
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Gestational diabetes

How to Reduce Your Risk

Eat a Healthy & Balanced Diet

When it comes to meal planning, mid-day snacks, and even drink choice—following a healthy diet can significantly reduce your risk for having a stroke and other cardiovascular events. Try adding the following foods to your diet to reap their positive health benefits:

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard
  • Potatoes
  • Nuts like cashews and walnuts
  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds
  • Fatty fish like salmon and tuna

Lead a More Active Lifestyle

When leading a sedentary lifestyle, it can be easy to become overweight or even obese, leading to a higher risk for having a stroke. Getting regular exercise can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight for your height. Try to work in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

Quit Smoking

With smoking being the most controllable risk factor for having a stroke, quitting effectively reduces your risk of having one. If you’ve never smoked, it is advised that you don’t start.

Signs & Symptoms

When it comes to identifying a stroke, it is imperative to B.E. F.A.S.T. This is because a quick and accurate diagnosis of a stroke is essential when it comes to stroke care. When treated within the first 3 hours of having an attack, a patient can avoid extensive brain damage and even death.

Look out for the following warning signs:


When someone is having a stroke, it’s normal for them to suddenly become dizzy or experience a loss of balance. Someone having a stroke may also complain of a sudden and severe headache.


When someone is having a stroke, it’s also common for them to suffer from impaired vision in one or both eyes. If you think the person you’re with may be having a stroke, ask them how many fingers you’re holding up to see if their vision is becoming worse.

Facial Drooping

One of the most common signs of having a stroke is that half of their face will begin to droop or become slack. If you suspect a stroke, ask the affected person to smile to make any changes more apparent.

Arm Weakness

Experiencing weakness or numbness in one or a few limbs is also common for those experiencing a stroke. Ask the affected person to lift their arms to see if one seems harder to lift than the other.

Speech Changes

Slurred or jumbled speech is also typical when someone is having a stroke. Pay close attention to the affected person’s speech patterns as you monitor for other symptoms.


As we previously said, it is imperative to act fast when you suspect that someone is having a stroke. If they’ve displayed one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Keep note of when you first started to notice their symptoms as well to help medical professionals administer treatment.

While most people having a stroke do not need CPR, it may be necessary if they lose consciousness. In the event that the affected person loses consciousness, check their breathing and pulse. If there is none, begin CPR while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

Acute Stroke Care in Lancaster, CA

At Antelope Valley Medical Center, we understand that patients suffering from a stroke require a quick response and accurate diagnosis in the short window following an attack. Antelope Valley Medical Center's stroke response team has a proven track record for demonstrating extraordinary efficiency and expertise in stroke care.

With Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission and the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, Antelope Valley Medical Center is committed to providing timely care to quickly treat acute stroke victims.

Call (661) 949-5000 or visit our dedicated stroke care page for more information.