How To Recognize A Stroke (And Prevent A Stroke From Happening)

How To Recognize A Stroke (And Prevent A Stroke From Happening) | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Spine Therapist

Many of us have learned a little bit about strokes at some point in our lives.

The signs of stroke are important to know, as are the factors that can be used to manage risk proactively.

The potential sudden onset of symptoms and the time sensitive nature of the issue makes it vital to be able to recognize the symptoms of stroke.

If you or a loved one have had a stroke and you’ve been wondering, “Where can I find stroke physical therapy near me ?” Capitol Physical Therapy is here to help.

But while a DC physical therapy clinic can help with stroke rehabilitation, the best solution is to prevent the stroke in the first place.

In this article we’re going to talk about what a stroke is, symptoms to watch out for, and how you can minimize your risk.

What Is A Stroke

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain bursts and bleeds, or is blocked.

This results in a reduced oxygen supply to the tissues surrounding your blood vessels.

When starved of oxygen, the cells and tissues of your brain can become damaged and start to die within minutes.

This rapid response to oxygen loss is why it’s so important to recognize the signs of a stroke and get medical attention immediately if you recognize symptoms.

Without prompt medical treatment a stroke can lead to lifelong changes in physical and cognitive function, or even death.

The sooner someone having a stroke gets medical care, the more likely they are to fully recover.

How To Recognize The Signs Of A Stroke

The brain acts as your body’s control center.

As a result, symptoms of a stroke can show up in whatever parts of the body are controlled by the area of the brain in which there is an oxygen supply issue.

The National Stroke Association suggests using the acronym “FAST” to help remember the signs of stroke.

“F” stands for Face.

A common symptom of stroke is one side of the face feeling numb or tingly, as well as drooping when the person having a stroke smiles or moves their face.

“A” stands for Arms.

This is to help you remember that if one arm drifts downward while both arms are raised in front of you, that’s a common sign of stroke.

“S” stands for speech

During a stroke a person may have difficulty speaking, or their speech may become slurred or otherwise sound odd.

“T” stands for time.

As in, if you notice the above symptoms, it’s time to call emergency services RIGHT NOW.

A stroke may also present as vision problems, paralysis, or sudden and severe headache.

When it comes to stroke recognition it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Seeking immediate medical attention for symptoms can have a major impact on the severity and duration of the damage caused by the stroke.

How To Lower Your Risk Of Stroke

Now you know how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, but how can you be proactive about preventing stroke?

There are a variety of lifestyle factors that can help you reduce your risk.

These strategies can be especially important if you have a family history of stroke, which can elevate your risk of having one yourself.

1. If You Smoke, Quit

It’s long been known that there is a link between smoking and stroke.

Smoking can lower blood oxygen levels in the time around when you smoke, as well as increasing heart rate and blood pressure, both of which increase risk of stroke.

People who smoke may be as much as six times more likely to have a stroke than those who don’t.

This study, shows a direct correlation not only between smoking and risk of stroke, but also that risk changes based on how much you smoke.

This means that reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke per day, even if you don’t quit completely, can still substantially reduce your risk of stroke.

stop smoking to prevent a stroke | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Spine Therapist

2. Maintain A Healthy Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the biggest stroke risk factor regardless of age and gender factors.

As mentioned in the previous section, quitting smoking if you do smoke is a great way to reduce your blood pressure and look after your cardiovascular health.

Other ways to help reduce blood pressure include limiting salt intake, increasing dietary consumption of unsaturated fats, eating a healthy and balanced diet in general, and getting regular exercise.

Being proactive about keeping your blood pressure low is important not only to reduce your risk of stroke but also to help prevent heart disease.

3. Drink Alcohol In Moderation

Over consumption of alcohol can cause health issues ranging from liver problems to dehydration, but it can also increase your risk of stroke.

This meta analysis found a potential link between heavy alcohol consumption and increased risk of stroke.

There’s good news for you though if you don’t think you could give up having a few drinks a week as a treat.

That study, along with this one, based on data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study showed that drinking alcohol in moderate amounts may actually decrease risk of stroke.

If you’re going to drink, remember to do it in moderation, and consider choosing red wine, which contains compounds that may help protect the heart and brain.

Of course, don’t take your physical therapist’s advice as gospel when it comes to alcohol consumption – your medical doctor will better able to advise you there.

4. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Obesity is a major risk factor for both diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which independently increase your risk of stroke.

Even without those associated conditions, obesity itself can be a risk factor.

If you are worried about your weight, talking to a health care professional can help you figure out what lifestyle changes might be right for you to help.

5. If You Have Diabetes, Keep It Managed

The high blood sugar spikes that can be caused by diabetes can damage blood vessels over time.

This damage can make them more likely to break, as well as making it easier for blood clots to form.

If you have diabetes, especially if you have a family history of stroke or other elevated risk factors, talk to your healthcare provider about using diet, exercise, and medication to help keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.

6. If You Have Atrial Fibrillation, Keep It Managed

Atrial fibrillation is a form of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, that can caused blood clots to form in the heart.

These clots can travel through blood vessels to the brain and lead to stroke by blocking blood supply once there.

Atrial fibrillation can make you as much as five times more likely to have a stroke.

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations, work with your healthcare provider to find strategies to manage the risks associated with it.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy

Having a stroke can lead to dramatic changes in physical ability and mobility.

Recovery from a stroke looks different for different people, based on the type of stroke, the area of the brain it affected, and the extent of the damage caused before treatment.

If you’ve had a stroke and have been left with changes to your movement abilities, there is help available from Capitol Physical Therapy.

Book an appointment today to start on your path back to feeling, and moving, your best.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC