May is US National Stroke Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the signs and symptoms of stroke and how we can prevent us and our loved ones from getting it. If you are someone with type 2 diabetes, you are at an increased risk for having a stroke.
Why is this?
First, you must understand what causes diabetes. Your pancreas produces a hormone known as insulin, which regulates glucose levels in your bloodstream. Insulin allows your body to make proper use of sugar in your body. If your body does not make enough insulin, or is unable to use it, glucose (sugar broken down from carbohydrates) builds up in the blood instead of being used by the cells for energy. Over time, clots or fat deposits can form in arteries that supply blood to the brain, causing their walls to narrow or even to clog. This is called atherosclerosis.
What is a stroke?
According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), 140,000 Americans die of stroke each year, and every 40 seconds someone dies of stroke. A stroke occurs when arteries narrow and become blocked because of plaques or fatty deposits. This is known as an ischemic stroke, and it’s the most common, accounting for 87% of strokes.
Another very serious type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke. This occurs when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures. This happens in approximately 15% of strokes.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
This type of stroke is also caused by clogging of the arteries, however, the blockage lasts for a shorter time and goes away on its own. It can last for a minute or several hours and does not cause permanent neurological injury. However, a TIA should not be ignored but should be taken as a warning.
Signs of a stroke
The CDC has listed the following signs:
- Sudden numbness or 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, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.
Now you know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and what causes it, you should try your best to prevent it. By making the lifestyle changes you read in this blog and following your doctor’s advice, you could lessen your chances of getting a stroke.