It’s already known that stress from work can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure is one of the most important known risk factors in stroke – and many people don’t even know they have it. It is often called the ‘silent killer’. The only way to know you have high blood pressure is to get checked. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and fourth largest cause of death in the United Kingdom.
Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in middle- and high-income countries. Strokes are due to a persistent interruption of blood flow to the brain, which can cause lasting brain damage, disability, and even death. However, long-term disability may be reduced if the patient receives medical intervention within three hours of first developing symptoms. Factors that increase the risk of having a stroke include - but are not limited to - the following: age, gender, family history of stroke, race, smoking, alcohol, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation.
Types of Strokes
Strokes can happen to anyone. The type of stroke someone has can affect treatment and recovery.
The three main types of stroke are:
- Ischemic stroke
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- Transient ischemic attacks (also known as "mini-strokes")
Most strokes (87%) are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. Blood clots often cause the blockages that lead to ischemic strokes.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures and puts too much pressure on brain cells, damaging them. High blood pressure and aneurysms are examples of conditions that can cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)
Often referred to as “mini-strokes,” TIAs are due to a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain that generally does not cause permanent damage to the brain. Symptoms of a TIA can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Even though TIAs generally do not result in permanent brain damage, they are still a medical emergency. TIAs are a warning sign that an individual is at an increased risk of having a stroke in near future. The risk of having a stroke after a TIA is highest the first few hours to days after having a TIA. In fact, TIA patients have a 10-percent chance of having a major stroke within two days after their TIA.
The major risk factors associated with secondary, or recurrent, strokes are a previous stroke and TIAs. According to the National Stroke Association, one out of every five individuals who has had a stroke will have a recurrent stroke within five years. Recurrent strokes usually result in higher disability and death rates than the original stroke, because the brain tissue has already been damaged. However, a study found that urgent assessment of TIAs and minor strokes with early initiation of treatment not only reduced a person’s risk of having a recurrent stroke by 80 percent but also reduced disability rates, hospital admissions, days spent in a hospital bed, and costs of acute admission to the hospital.
Early detection of stroke and/or TIA symptoms and prompt medical intervention are arguably the most important things a person can do to reduce the long-term effects of a stroke, as well as reduce the risk of a secondary stroke. The signs and symptoms associated with a TIA are identical to those of a stroke; however, the symptoms from a TIA only last a short time. This infographic based on information from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, can be used by individuals to help them quickly identify the symptoms associated with a stroke as well as a TIA.
Recognize the Signs of Stroke
The acronym BE-FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke:
- BALANCE: Look for loss of balance
- EYES: Blurred vision
- FACE: Look to see if one side of the face is drooping
- ARMS: Weakness may be felt or observed in the arms or legs
- SPEECH: Slurred speech or difficulting speaking
- TIME: Every second counts
Getting medical treatment rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery.
Use this infographic to help inform your employees on how to recognize the signs of stroke.