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If you experience these symptoms, you should act quickly

Paralysis in the hand and arm alarmed actress Katy Karrenbauer: She suffered a stroke. What symptoms to look out for – and how you should behave.

After a stroke, actress Katy Karrenbauer (known from the RTL series “Hinter Gittern – der Frauenknast”) is now recovering from surgery. She had apparently correctly interpreted the symptoms – paralysis in the hand and forearm – and went to the hospital in time. After extensive examinations, Karrenbauer was operated on. Read more about it here.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a stroke (apoplexy) every year. This causes a disruption in blood flow to the brain. In around 20 percent of cases, this is fatal. This makes it all the more important to recognize the signs early and to protect yourself. And to choose the right treatment.

What is behind a stroke?

The most common form of stroke is the so-called cerebral infarction (ischemic stroke). It occurs in around 80 percent of cases. The brain suddenly no longer receives sufficient blood flow as a result of a narrowed or blocked artery. The causes of this type of stroke are usually high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation or deposits in the neck vessels.

A ruptured carotid artery or a congenital hole in the heart can also trigger a stroke, particularly in younger people under 55. This becomes a problem when small blood clots (thrombi) are flushed out of the veins and travel through the main artery to the head, where they block the artery and trigger the stroke.

In the remaining 20 percent, a stroke occurs due to a brain hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke).

What symptoms indicate a stroke?

The symptoms of a stroke can vary and depend on which part of the brain the circulatory disorder or bleeding occurs in. Women also often have different symptoms than men. However, you should take the following symptoms seriously and get yourself checked out:

  • sudden feeling of weakness
  • strong headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paralysis or numbness on one side of the body
  • Visual disturbances or loss of visual field on one side, double vision
  • blurred vision or loss of vision in one eye
  • Problems speaking
  • sudden dizziness with unsteady gait

Katy Karrenbauer therefore correctly interpreted the paralysis in her hand and forearm and, on the advice of the doctors, immediately went to see a specialist.

Suspected stroke: How to proceed

If you suspect you have suffered a stroke, you should get help immediately because, as doctors say, “time is brain.” This means that the longer you wait to treat the stroke, the more valuable nerve tissue in the brain can die.

Conversely, the faster you seek treatment, the less severe the long-term consequences of the dysfunction will be. Therefore, as soon as you notice the first signs, have yourself taken by ambulance directly to the neurology department of a hospital, a so-called stroke unit.

If you have to wait for care, try to stay calm. Depending on the type of stroke, too much movement can make the situation worse.

How to protect yourself from a stroke

The classic risk factors such as being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure and lack of exercise also increase the risk of stroke. Therefore, make sure you exercise regularly, maintain a body weight with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 and eat a healthy diet with foods rich in fibre and not too many carbohydrates.

This does not mean that you have to go vegan or vegetarian from now on. Eating fats in moderation is also important because they provide energy and make you feel full more quickly – this means that we consume fewer calories. On the other hand, if you consume large amounts of saturated fats over decades, for example by regularly eating fast food, you increase your risk of having a stroke.

It is also advisable for those who have a family history of the disease to have their cholesterol levels checked regularly. If the level is above 300 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl) when fasting, doctors usually prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs. Apps and smartwatches can now also help to detect symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmias early on.

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