According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of adult disability. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced or completely cut off, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen and food and causing brain cells to die.
Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable by making lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors.
The faster a person suffering a stroke receives medical attention, the better their chance of recovery. Acting F.A.S.T. (Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Arm. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange? Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. At the first signs and symptoms of a stroke, it is important that prompt treatment is received. According to the National Stroke Association, for each minute that passes after blood flow to the brain is restricted, a person loses 1.9 million neurons, which can affect speech, movement, memory and other functions.
If you believe you or someone else is experiencing a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately and note the time of the first symptom as this can affect treatment.
TIPS TO IMPROVE AGING BRAIN FUNCTION
- Use it or lose it!
- Keep your brain’s “library of experience” in regular, vigorous use. Volunteer to work in the community or join the Peace Corps.
- Engage in new activities. Take up painting, become a tutor, go back to school! The possibilities are endless.
- Do crossword puzzles, play word games or cards to strengthen the synapses between brain cells in memory transmission areas.
- Physical exercise can increase mental abilities 20 percent to 30 percent, according to recent studies.
- Journal writing and working with your hands to build or create can help, as well.
- Spend time in the company of family and friends. The older brain thrives on social contact.
Worried about your risk factors for having a stroke? Download this Stroke Risk Quiz to discover if you're at a higher or lower risk. Make sure to discuess your results with your health care provider for tips on lowering your risk.