Stroke is the heart attack of the brain |

Stroke is the heart attack of the brain

Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Yet stroke is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death for women and men. The issue is too few people know what a stroke is and how to recognize the signs and symptoms.

A “stroke is the heart attack of the brain,” said Dr. Marcus H. Howell, interventional cardiologist at Valley View Hospital. Blood clots forming in the blood vessels serving the heart cause heart attacks; those that develop in or travel to the blood vessels in the brain are responsible for strokes. When blood flow is cut off to an area of the brain, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Once brain cells die, abilities controlled by the affected area such as speech and muscle control are lost.

A stroke affects different people in different ways, depending on the area of the brain where the stroke occurs and the type. For some, the effects can be minor such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg, and may not last long, while others will experience serious long-term effects, such as difficulty moving one side of the body and trouble speaking. Two thirds of all stroke survivors will experience some level of disability.

Sometimes warning signs of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.

The warning signs for stroke are as follows:

• Sudden weakness or numbness of face or limb on one side

• Sudden, severe headache

• Difficulty talking or understanding speech

• Unexplained dizziness

• Sudden dimness, loss of vision, often in one eye

Quickly recognizing symptoms can save lives. Time lost is brain loss. If you or someone near you is having a stroke, it is important to get immediate medical attention — call 911.

Prescreening tests are a great way to reduce your risk of stroke. As Dr. Howell recommends, “Attending health fairs, checking your vitals, these are preventative measures. We have great treatments for cardiovascular disease, but early intervention will always save lives.”

Take control of your health by attending the community health fair. For more information on this year’s community health fair dates and screening information visit

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