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  • Writer's pictureAmy Neilson, CCHW

Health Snapshot: Stroke

A stroke is a medical emergency when blood flow to the brain is stopped or interrupted.

In Rhode Island, heart disease and stroke cause more deaths among men and women than any other disease, in all racial and ethnic groups.

There are two major types of stroke:

  • An Ischemic Stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. This occurs when there is an obstruction of blood flow through the blood vessels to the brain. 8 out of 10 strokes are ischemic strokes.

  • A Hemmorrhagic Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood leaks into the brain tissue.

How do you recognize when someone is having a stroke? F.A.S.T.

F - Facial weakness. Ask the person to smile, and check to see if one side of their face is drooping or uncontrolled

A - Arm weakness. Ask the person to lift both of their arms and hold for 10 seconds. Check to see if the arms begin to drop.

S - Speech problems. Talk to the person, and ask easy-to-answer questions to check if their speech is slurred or does not make sense.

T - Time. Call 911 immediately if the person is experiencing any of the above symptoms. The sooner a person is treated, the better the outcome and recovery.

Other stroke symptoms include loss of balance, difficulty walking, numbness, confusion, trouble seeing, and severe headaches.

Stroke Risk Factors

Unavoidable Risk Factors

  • Previous history of stroke

  • Family history of stroke

  • Race and ethnicity ( The risk of having a stroke is nearly twice as high for people who are black)

  • Gender (More women die from stroke than men)

  • Age

Controllable Risk Factors

  • Living a generally unhealthy lifestyle can cause other health conditions that can lead to an increased risk of stroke. These factors include general inactivity, unhealthy eating, obesity, and chronic stress.

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and smoking can all increase the risk of stroke.


How to Prevent a Stroke

Healthy lifestyle behaviors can help prevent stroke

  • Staying active with moderate exercise,

  • Losing 10-15% of your body weight if you are overweight

  • Stress reduction, like yoga and meditation

  • Taking prescribed medications to control and manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease

  • Quitting smoking and/or tobacco use


Learn more

American Stroke Association - a division of the American Heart Association


If you'd like to talk about the information in the above post, or would like some guidance in making positive healthy lifestyle changes or assistance with other basic needs (ie finances, food, utilities) please reach out. I am here to listen and can make referrals where needed. All conversations are confidential.

Amy Neilson, Certified Community Health Worker

Chariho Youth Task Force

(401) 212-2741

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