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3 things you need to know about having a stroke

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The American Stroke Association says someone in the United States has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.

Did you know that stroke is also the leading preventable cause of disability? Here's what you need to know about identifying, treating and preventing a stroke.

What is a stroke?

The National Stroke Association says a stroke occurs when blood flow is cut off to some part of the brain. This causes brain cells to be deprived of oxygen and die. There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain aneurism bursts or a weakened blood vessel leaks. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain.

Ischemic stroke
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, which then prevents blood from reaching the brain. Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes. Transient ischemic attacks (ITA) are known as "mini strokes" and are caused by a temporary clot.

1. Identifying a stroke

The American Stroke Association came up with a very handy acronym to help people remember the warning signs. Those who believe they or another are suffering stroke-like symptoms to act FAST:

Face Drooping
Arm Weakness
Speech Difficulty
Time to Call 911

Aside from these sudden signs, the National Stroke Association offers additional symptoms to watch for: sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

If you or another have any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Note the time of the first symptom. This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.

2. Preventing a stroke

Anyone can have a stroke, regardless of age. Your chances of having a stroke increase if you have certain risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list certain conditions and behaviors that increase your likelihood of having a stroke:

Conditions

· Previous stroke or ITA

· High blood pressure

· High cholesterol

· Heart disease

· Diabetes

· Sickle cell disease

Behaviors

· Unhealthy diet

· Physical inactivity

· Obesity

· Too much alcohol

· Tobacco use

There are other factors, such as your age, gender, race or ethnicity, genetics and family history that could increase your chances of having a stroke.

These factors cannot be controlled, but it is important to be aware of them. Having these risk factors makes it even more important to address other factors you that can control.

3. How can a stroke cause disability?

The effects of having a stroke impact nearly every aspect of an individual's life, particularly the ability to work and make a living. According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke can leave you with a variety of symptoms, which may vary depending on where it occurs in your brain.

If the stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, it could produce any of the following symptoms:

· Paralysis on the left side of the body

· Vision problems

· Quick, inquisitive behavior

· Memory loss

· Fatigue

If the stroke occurs on the left side of the brain, any or all of the following could occur:

· Paralysis on the right side of the body

· Speech/language problems

· Slow, cautious behavior

· Memory loss

· Fatigue

A stroke can saddle you with financial burden in addition to the disabling physical effects. It's estimated that the lifetime cost of an ischemic stroke (the most common type) is $140,048. This includes inpatient care, rehabilitation and follow-up care necessary for last effects.

However, as stroke affects everyone differently, the associated costs could be much greater. This could place you in a difficult position if your stroke has severely limited your ability to perform everyday tasks and the essential job functions, rendering you unable to work.

If you have disability insurance and believe you're eligible for benefits, contact a top-rated disability insurance attorney for free help with your claim forms. You can also brush up on how to claim disability benefits from the effects of a stroke.

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