Are you at risk for stroke or ministroke? Age can be a factor

May is Stroke Awareness Month
May 13, 2021

Strokes often happen without warning.

Many patients report having no symptoms prior to having a stroke. Some may experience what is called a ministroke. In most cases, having a ministroke means you are at higher risk for a stroke, and the risk increases in adults 55 and over. It is a major warning sign about your health.

How do strokes happen?

Stroke and ministroke both occur because of problems with the blood flow in your arteries. If you have buildup of plaques on the inside of your arteries, these areas can reduce the amount of blood that is able to flow through. If the buildup becomes so large that it stops the blood flow, then you can have a stroke.

If a piece of the plaque breaks off and travels into your brain, that can also cause a stroke.

With ministroke, it is the same process, but with ministroke, your blood flow is disrupted for a short amount of time – generally five minutes or less.

Ministrokes are often seen as a temporary condition. Patients who have a ministroke often get back to living their lives more quickly. They do not end up with the long-term disabilities that those who have stroke often experience.

However, it is important to know that if you had a ministroke, you should be more conscious about your higher risk of having a stroke.

Risk factors for stroke

Those with the following conditions or lifestyles are at higher risk for a stroke: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high alcohol consumption, having had transient ischemic attack or ministroke.

Know the signs

The best way to have a positive outcome from a ministroke, TIA or stroke is to get medical help immediately. If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1- right away – do not hesitate. Paramedics can start treatment and diagnosis upon arrival, and continue on the way to one of Beebe’s two emergency departments in Lewes and near Millville.

Time is brain, so BE FAST: 

  • Balance - Is the patient off balance or having trouble walking?
  • Eyes - Is the patient having blurry or double vision?
  • Face - Is the patient’s smile lopsided?
  • Arms - Is one side weaker or immobile?
  • Speech - Is speech slurred or unclear?
  • Time - Over 1 billion brain neurons die every minute without oxygen.

Bobbi Hensey, BSN, RN, CCRN, is the Beebe Healthcare stroke coordinator. For more information, go to


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