1. 87 percent of strokes are ischemic, caused by a clot blocking an artery to the brain. The rest are hemorrhagic, resulting from a ruptured artery in the brain. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are causedby a temporary blockage.
2. In two-thirds of cases, a bystander recognizes the signs and sudden symptoms of stroke and calls for treatment.
3. Think F.A.S.T. That acronym includes the most common warning signs and symptoms of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
4. Stroke symptoms can also include sudden numbness, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden severe headache, and sudden trouble walking.
5. Calling 9-1-1 for an ambulance is the fastest way to get treated during a stroke. Don’t drive yourself.
6. The drug tPA (alteplase) can dissolve a clot causing a stroke if administered within 3 hours of symptom onset (up to 4½ hours in some cases). People who arrive at the hospital within 90 minutes of symptom onset and are treated with tPA are three times more likely to recover with little or no disabilitythan those who don’t get the drug.
7. For people with an ischemic stroke, the treatment window for mechanical clot removal is usually six hours—but up to 24 hours for some clots in large vessels.
8. Aspirin therapy can help stroke survivors avoid a recurrence. Stopping aspirin can up their risk of having another stroke.
9. In the “Stroke Belt,” an 11-state region in the Southeast, the risk of stroke is one-third higher than the U.S. average. This is attributed to poor diet, a higher rate of uncontrolled hypertension, and otherfactors.
10. More people in their 30s and 40s are having strokes than in the past, largely because many have multiple risk factors.
11. High blood pressure is the most common controllable cause of stroke. Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.
12. Other risk factors: obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and family history.
13. 80 percent of strokes are preventable—notably by eating healthfully, being physically active, and controlling risk factors.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.