Whenever anyone brings up the issue of strokes, it’s almost always targeted at middle aged and elderly people. Although it’s true that the older you are, the higher your chances of developing a stroke. However, in recent decades, the number of young people below 40 suffering from strokes has increased dramatically.
Experts believe that the increase of premature strokes in young people is caused by a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diets. Additionally, younger people tend to ignore the early signs of stroke. This often leads to their situation getting worse.
What is a stroke?
The most common type of stroke is called an Ischemic stroke. This happens when blood flow is cut off from one part of the brain. This causes the nerves to die and the patient will lose control of one or more body parts. About 10% of all stroke sufferers are below the age of 45. However, this percentage is expected to go up in the coming decades.
Certain types of conditions increase the risk and probabilities of a stroke. These include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems including coronary heart disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
- Sickle cell disease
- Family history of stroke
- lack of physical activity
If you have any one of these conditions, you should take extra precaution. Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of a stroke and getting treated as early as possible will definitely help.
Early Stroke Symptoms
If you’re a young person, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility that you may be at risk of stroke too. The earlier you get treated during a stroke, the higher the chances of recovery.
These are the signs you shouldn’t miss:
1. Arm Weakness
A sudden numbness and inability to fully use your arms means that the blood is having trouble reaching it. You can test arm weakness in yourself and others by lifting both arms up and seeing whether either one is leaning downwards.
2. Loss of Balance
This includes being unable to walk in a straight line and unable to touch your hand to your nose. A loss of balance can also lead to falling over and bumping into things.
3. Face Drooping
An uneven smile is one of the easiest and most significant sign of a stroke. Check yourself or someone else by asking them to smile. If the smile is uneven or drooping on one side, that’s a sign that blood is being blocked to the face. Face drooping can also be accompanied by numbness in the facial muscles.
4. Eye Problems
If your vision suddenly goes blurry, or you see double, then this is cause for concern. Remember that these eye problems have to occur suddenly. If you are short sighted and need to wear glasses, this isn’t a sign of stroke. Eye problems related to stroke come and go very quickly.
5. Slurring Speech
One sign that blood isn’t reaching the brain is when you have problem forming words and talking. Sometimes, you won’t realize you’re slurring and others will have to inform you. So if someone asks you why you’re talking ‘funny’, don’t get offended. Be concerned instead.
6. ‘Pins and Needles’ Sensation
This feeling of discomfort is sometimes described as a ‘tingling’ sensation and can be felt in any part of the body. Most commonly, it is felt at the legs, arms, face and neck. This sensation feels like you’re being pricked. It’s the result of your nerves not getting enough blood.
Although dizziness is not specifically linked to early signs of stroke, it can be significant if it happens together with other symptoms mentioned here. The dizziness related to stroke happens very suddenly and can sometimes cause you to be unable to function or walk.
8. Severe Headache
This isn’t your regular headache, and usually it happens for no specific reason. Once again, it’s important to note that headaches aren’t specific to strokes. They’re important if they happen in tandem with other signs.
Confusion often occurs together with dizziness and headaches. It’s when you feel like a cloud has come over your thought. You have difficulty focusing and concentrating. You may even forget where you are or what you want to do. Sometimes this confusion leads you to misunderstand what’s being said to you.
Confusion should not be ignored. It’s sometimes mistaken as someone throwing a tantrum or losing their temper. However, any behavioral change that is sudden and happen for no reason should be checked.
10. Difficulty Swallowing
Early stages of a stroke causes a small part of your muscles to lose their function. This can include the throat muscles too. Weakness in the same groups of muscles that cause you to have slurred speech and difficulty speaking can also cause you not to be able to swallow properly. This is one of the more dangerous signs as it can lead to choking.
What can I do if I experience these signs?
The first thing you should do is call an emergency number. If there’s someone with you, get them to drive you to the nearest hospital. The longer you ignore the symptoms, the more difficult it will be to treat the stroke and recover from it. Ignoring stroke symptoms can even lead to long term disability.
If you live with loved ones, educate them about the signs of stroke and tell them that they need to call emergency services if you experience several of the early warning signs mentioned above.
How do I prevent a stroke?
In order to reduce your chances of developing a stroke, you should eat healthier, quit smoking, exercise more, reduce salt intake and keep your weight in check. In essence, adopt a healthier lifestyle with more balanced meals and more physical activity.
In addition to that, you should go for a regular check-up with your doctor, even though you don’t feel sick. In this way, you’ll be able to keep track of your cholesterol and lipid ( fat) levels.
There is no guarantee that you will never develop a stroke, as strokes are caused by a number of factors. However, you can do you best to ensure that the chances are minimized.