Get to know stroke: risk factors, signs & symptoms

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Know the symptoms of stroke

Individuals with high blood pressure — including many truck drivers — have an increased risk for stroke.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that leads to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or bursts. This cuts off that part of the brain’s access to blood and oxygen, causing it to begin dying. Strokes can impact language, memory and vision and often cause paralysis and other health issues. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, causes damage to arteries which means they burst or clog more easily. According to the American Heart Association, about 87 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes (clot) and 13 percent of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes (burst).

So how can truck drivers prevent this threat to good health? 

The American Stroke Association says that the best way to prevent stroke is with knowledge. Talk to your doctor to find out if you have any risk factors for stroke and how to develop a prevention plan that is right for you.

There are several risk factors for stroke, and some can be addressed through diet and exercise while others may require medications:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Transient ischemic attacks, so called “mini strokes”
  • Certain blood disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Illegal drug use

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can can be prepared to act quickly. 

Signs and symptoms of a stoke include:

  • Sudden numbness of weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, loss or balance or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Use the F.A.S.T. method to identify a stroke.

How to act F.A.S.T. when you think someone may be having a stroke:

  • F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or sound strange?
  • T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.