“Debra” went into a medical clinic for a routine check-up — after the procedure, the 60 year old was getting ready to leave the clinic when she turned to her husband and said, “Something’s wrong – I’m seeing spots.” Within seconds, she the right side of her body became completely paralyzed; she began losing consciousness rapidly. Within a few hours, she was pronounced brain dead.
Debra had succumbed to the 4th leading cause of death in the United States: stroke.
Types of Stroke
According to the National Library of Science, the most common type of stroke is caused by a blood clot in the brain (ischemic stroke). Stroke can also be triggered by an aneurysm, or a sudden bursting of a blood vessel(s) in the brain.
After an autopsy, it was determined that Debra experienced both types of stroke nearly simultaneously — the ischemic stroke likely caused the aneurysm.
Her case emphasizes the fact that time is of the essence when symptoms of a stroke appear. Although her case was extreme (most stroke victims experience one or the other type of stroke rather than both at the same time), it demonstrates the necessity of seeking immediate medical attention when we or a loved experience symptoms.
To help mitigate stroke risk, the most common risk factors are treatable:
- High blood pressure, which can be managed with diet, exercise and medication if necessary
- Type 2 diabetes, which should be monitored with due diligence to mitigate risk
- Heart disease — if you have heart disease and are over 50, your doctor could decide to put you on an aspirin regimen to help prevent blood clots
Obesity is also linked to stroke, if indirectly; obese patients are more likely to develop high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
The National Heart and Lung Association, the American Heart Association and other health organizations regularly fund research to come to a better understanding of these risk factors and how they contribute to stroke risk.
The latest study points to an association between anxiety and stroke risk; however, these links may actually be more attributable with how people choose to deal with their anxiety, rather than the anxiety itself. Those who experience greater anxiety are more likely to be smokers and to be less physically active.