May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes may seem like an issue that only older people are faced with and is often pushed aside when talking about younger people, but strokes aren’t just something our grandparents have when we stress them out. In fact, younger people are often unaware of what a stroke is, what causes a stroke, what the signs of a stroke are and how to prevent a stroke and how to help someone who is already having a stroke.

What Is A Stroke?

Most often people think a stroke is one generic thing that can happen to a person. There are multiple forms of strokes, but there are three main types of strokes: a Hemorrhagic Stroke, an Ischemic Stroke and a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). Though all three types of strokes have similar reactions, they are caused by three different things happening to a person’s body.

What Causes A Stroke?

A Hemorrhagic Stroke is the least common of the three main types of strokes, but it is also the one that causes the most deaths if it is not caught in time. A Hemorrhagic Stroke is caused by a weak blood vessel rupturing in the brain; this is also called an aneurysm. Aneurysms are usually a result of high blood pressure which can be caused by a number of things. People who smoke have a higher risk of having an aneurysm since the use of cigarettes increases blood pressure. Medication can be provided to regulate blood pressure in an attempt to prevent aneurysms, but if left untreated high blood pressure can cause a high risk for Hemorrhagic Strokes.

An Ischemic Stroke is more common among stroke patients. Ischemic Strokes are caused by a blood clot in the brain. These clots are most often a result of heart problems. Heart problems such as irregular heartbeats can cause a blood clot and send that clot to the brain. Once the clot is pushed to the brain it will not allow blood to flow smoothly and can lead to an Ischemic Stroke.

Transient Ischemic Attacks are not always considered “strokes”, but they can turn into a stroke if not resolved. A TIA is the least severe out of the three main types of strokes because the body often fixes the problem on its own. TIA’s are smaller blood clots in the brain that reduce or temporarily block the flow of blood. Since blood flow is reduced, TIA’s cause stroke-like symptoms but do not usually trigger a full-on Ischemic Stroke.

What Are The Signs Of A Stroke And How To Prevent One.

The American Stroke Association says that if you think you or someone around you is having a stroke, you need to act F.A.S.T.

Face- If you notice that the person’s face is drooping and they are having a hard time smiling, ask them if their face is numb or tingly. Numbness and drooping of the face is often the first sign someone is having a stroke.

Arm- Someone who is having a stroke may feel weak in their arms. This is normally the second sign that someone is having a stroke. If you notice their face drooping at first, ask them to raise both arms and see if one of them is significantly lower than the other.

Speech- When talking, a stroke patient may slur their words. If you notice someone having a difficult time putting together words and is also showing other signs of stroke, it is very likely that they are actually having a stroke. Most people often ignore these signs.

Time- If you notice these signs it is time to call 911. Most strokes can be prevented if the signs are recognized and taken care of early enough. If someone is already having a stroke, the lasting effects are less likely to be permanent if the patient is treated soon enough.

How To Help Someone Who Is Already Having A Stroke.

If someone is already having a stroke, it is crucial that you immediately call 911. Strokes that are left untreated can cause permanent damage to a person, and they can even be fatal. Do not leave the person who is having a stroke; it is important to stay with them so that any changes can be monitored and reported accurately when help arrives. Make sure that you are aware of any medications the person is taking (if you are able to) so that the patient will be treated correctly and not have any damage from medications used to treat them. It is also important that food or medicine is not given to the person having the stroke until help arrives. Providing medicine to a stroke patient could make the stroke worse if it is not the proper medicine. Above all, remain calm. Though it may be difficult to remain calm while someone is having a stroke, it could be the best treatment for the person until help arrives. If a stroke patient senses your stress it will cause them to worry and could possibly make their stroke worse.

Strokes can happen to anyone, but they do not have to have lasting effects. If you are able to recognize the signs of a stroke and act accordingly, you could very easily save a life. For more information on how to help someone who is having a stroke or what you can do to prevent strokes, visit The American Stroke Association.