Strokes are the No. 1 cause of disability and the No. 4 cause of death in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association
. But knowing the risk factors and symptoms of a stroke can play a huge role in reducing the potentially devastating effects.
There are two main types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic, according to the stroke association.
account for 87% of all stroke cases. When a blood vessel becomes blocked by fatty deposits, blood has trouble passing through to the brain. An ischemic stroke is caused by this obstruction.
A thrombotic ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms at the blocked part of a vessel. An embolic ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms at another spot in the body and travels to a vessel in the brain that's too small to let it pass.
A hemorrhagic stroke
is caused by a weakened blood vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the brain, according to the association. You may have heard of an aneurysm; an aneurysm is a sort of bubble in a blood vessel that can grow until it bursts. That can cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
Spotting the early signs of a stroke and getting help quickly can reduce any long-term effects, the association says. "The sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the sooner they'll get treatment. And that can make a remarkable difference in their recovery," the ASA website states.
Use the F.A.S.T. acronym
to identify symptoms: If you see F
ace drooping, A
rm weakness or S
peech difficulty, it's T
ime to call 911.
Other symptoms include sudden numbness in the legs, sudden confusion or trouble seeing, sudden dizziness or loss of balance, or a sudden severe headache.
If you or a loved one is at high risk for a stroke, download the American Stroke Association's new F.A.S.T. mobile app, available for iPhones and iPads on the App Store. An Android version is coming soon.
Your diet and exercise habits play a big role in your risk for having a stroke. Remember, fatty deposits in blood vessels cause the majority of stroke cases. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association
Smoking can also play a role: Nicotine and carbon dioxide cause damage to your blood vessels, weakening them and putting you at risk of a hemorrhagic stroke
Genetics may be a risk factor as well. Your risk of having a stroke is higher if an immediate family member has had a stroke, according to the asociation.
"Some strokes may be symptoms of genetic disorders like CADASIL, which is caused by a gene mutation that leads to damage of blood vessel walls in the brain, blocking blood flow," the organization's website states.
For more information, visit: