(File photo)

(File photo)

What is a stroke?

June is Stroke Awareness Month in Canada.

June is Stroke Awareness Month in Canada. and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is sharing information on stroke prevention and what to do if you think you are having one.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or is blocked. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain starts to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain can’t work properly.

Brain damage can begin within minutes. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms of stroke and to act fast. Quick treatment can help limit damage to the brain and increase the chance of a full recovery.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms of a stroke happen quickly. A stroke may cause:
  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden trouble speaking.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

If you have any of these symptoms, even if they go away quickly, call 911 or other emergency services right away.

A stroke can’t be self-managed at home.

The acronym FAST is a simple way to remember the main symptoms of stroke. Recognizing these symptoms helps you know when to call for medical help. FAST stands for:

Face – Is it drooping?

Arms – Can you raise both?

Speech – Is it slurred or jumbled?

Time – Call 911 immediately.

How can you prevent another stroke?

After you have had a stroke, you are at risk for having another one but you can make some important lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of stroke and improve your overall health.

Treat any health problems you have. Manage high blood pressure or high cholesterol by working with your doctor. Manage diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels within a target range.

If your doctor recommends taking aspirin or a blood thinner, take it and take medication exactly as prescribed.

Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

AHS said that getting the influenza (flu) vaccine every year, adopting a healthy lifestyle, not smoking and limiting alcohol can also help.

Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight makes it more likely you will develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a stroke more likely.

Be active. Ask your doctor what type and level of activity is safe for you.

If you are in a stroke rehab program, your rehab team can make an exercise program that is right for you.

Eat heart-healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, high-fibre foods, fish, and foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat.

For more information on strokes, speak with your family doctor or call Health Link at 811 to speak with a registered nurse.