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Posts Tagged ‘Stroke’

Time is Brain: Spotting The Warning Signs of Stroke is Essential for Successful Treatment and Minimization of Damage. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sam Steele.

Stroke Image 1

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures. This results in insufficient blood flow to areas in the brain and quickly results in irreversible damage or death of those brain areas.

In the United States, stroke ranks as the fifth most common cause of death, contributing to one in twenty fatalities. Additionally, stroke stands as a significant contributor to long-term disability.

Fortunately, there are actions you can take to minimize the impact of a stroke and lower the likelihood of experiencing one.

Time lost is brain lost

Brain cells rely on a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to survive. When the flow of blood to the brain is disrupted, brain cells start to die within minutes. In the case of an ischemic stroke, which is the most prevalent type, an estimated 32,000 brain cells die every minute, totaling 192,000,000 within an hour.

Every second counts. Recognizing the signs of stroke and immediately calling 911 is essential in minimizing the damage caused by a stroke. If there is uncertainty about whether you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke, it’s best to err on the side of caution and call 911.

Know the signs of a stroke

Knowing the signs of a stroke are essential to getting help fast. BE FAST is an acronym that can help you remember key symptoms of stroke so you know when to call for help.

 BE FAST stroke image

Transient ischemic attack (TIA or “mini stroke”)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a “mini stroke”, is a stroke that lasts for only a few minutes, with most symptoms disappearing after an hour. A TIA is a medical emergency, just like a major stroke. TIAs require emergency care and you should call 911 right away if you experience one. They are a warning sign of a future major stroke.

More than a third of people who have a TIA and don’t get treatment have a major stroke within a year. Up to 10% to 15% of people will have a major stroke within three months of a TIA.

Reducing Risk of Stroke

Knowing the signs of stroke is important; however, there are also things you can do to decrease your risk of stroke.

  • Lower blood pressure
    • Having high blood pressure can double or quadruple your risk of stroke. Make sure you have a doctor monitor your blood pressure and take all blood pressure medications as directed.
  • Lose weight
    • Obesity and the complications that can come along with it raise your risk of stroke. Studies have shown that even losing ten pounds can decrease stroke risk.
  • Exercise more
    • Exercise can help with weight loss and blood pressure lowering. However, exercise has been shown to be an independent stroke reducer on its own. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five days a week.
  • Decrease alcohol consumption
    • If you drink, moderation is important. Stroke risk increases when someone averages more than one drink per day.
  • Treat atrial fibrillation (afib)
    • Atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heart rhythm, increases the risk of stroke almost fivefold. If you have symptoms of heart palpitations, make sure to see your doctor. If you are on blood thinners for atrial fibrillation, make sure to take them as directed.
  • Treat diabetes
    • High blood sugar can damage your blood vessels over time and increase your stroke risk. Keeping your blood sugar under control can decrease stroke risk.
  • Quit smoking
    • Smoking significantly raises risk of stroke. Smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that can help prevent a stroke.


  1. “About Stroke.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 May 2023, www.cdc.gov/stroke/about.htm.
  2. “May Is Stroke Awareness Month.” Hennepin Healthcare, 2 Aug. 2023, www.hennepinhealthcare.org/blog/may-is-stroke-awareness-month/.
  3. “Stroke Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 May 2023, www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm.
  4. Saver, Jeffrey L. “Time is brain–quantified.” Stroke 37,1 (2006): 263-6. doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000196957.55928.ab
  5. “Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/transient-ischemic-attack-tia#:~:text=TIA%20symptoms%2C%20which%20usually%20occur,one%20side%20of%20the%20body. Accessed 17 Nov. 2023.
  6. “7 Things You Can Do to Prevent a Stroke.” Harvard Health, 15 May 2022, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke

The Signs of a Stroke. By Our August Student Pharmacist, Ben Coles.

In the United States, a stroke happens every 40 seconds, which equates to nearly 800,000 people experiencing a stroke every year. Strokes are not only the fifth leading cause of death in the US, but they are also the leading cause of disability. Although one out of every six strokes leads to death, 80% can be prevented. While it may be very frightening to experience a stroke, watching someone experience a stroke can also be upsetting. It is imperative to not only know what a stroke is, but also what the warning signs are.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is essentially a “brain attack”. A stroke occurs when blood flow is shut off to a section of the brain and can happen to anyone at any time. Just like all of our other organs, our brain has blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. These blood vessels can become blocked with a clot or burst and then that part of the brain will no longer receive oxygen and nutrients and will die.

How a person is affected by a stroke depends on how much and the part of the brain that is affected. For someone who has suffered a small stroke or “mini-stroke”, they might have temporary weakness of an arm or leg. For larger strokes, the weakness would be long-term and more serious even to the point of partial paralysis.

There are three basic types of strokes and they are all treated differently.

Three types of strokes:

  1. Hemorrhagic stroke—a stroke caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain which results in bleeding within the brain.
  2. Ischemic stroke—a stroke caused by a blood vessel being blocked by a clot.
  3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)—when blood flow stops to a part of the brain for a short period of time; also called a “mini-stroke”.


Stroke Signs:

The most important things to know about strokes are the warning signs. It is vital to know not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones.

If you think you or someone you are with is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately!

Above is an infographic that spells out the stroke signs in the acronym FAST.

  1. Face-facial drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  2. Arms-arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  3. Speech-speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Is the person hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  4. Time-time to call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Even if the symptoms go away, you need to get the person to the hospital.

Beyond the acronym of FAST, there are some other signs you can look for.

  • Sudden NUMBNESS
  • Sudden CONFUSION

Since strokes happen in different parts of the brain, each person may experience a unique set of stroke symptoms. It is important to be familiar with all of the stroke symptoms to best protect yourself and your loved ones.

Remember, if someone shows ANY of the stroke signs, it is important to call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately! Remember the acronym FAST! Strokes can be a scary situation for all parties involved, but it is important to remember these stroke signs and know when to get the person to the hospital.

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