Could you help during a stroke?

(This article is not meant as means of self diagnosis or treatment – talk to your doctor to when seeking treatment and to find out what treatment(s) will work best for you.)

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, someone very close and dear to me suffered a stroke. The stroke damaged their speech, ability to move one leg, and overall mobility. This prompted me to learn as much as possible regarding a stroke and the effects it has on its victims. Here is what I know:

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the leading cause of disability in adults. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body), or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.  When either of these things happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs (resulting in the inability to move certain parts of the body controlled by that area of the brain). Some abilities that are usually affected may include speech, body movement, and memory. Each stroke victim is affected differently based on how much damage there is to the brain. A stroke can happen to anyone at anytime regardless of race, sex, or age.

In addition:

–          More woman than men suffer from strokes each year

–          Male stroke incident rates are greater than females at younger ages as opposed to older age

–          African Americas have almost twice the risk than Caucasian

FACTORS THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO A STROKE

–          High Cholesterol

–          Diabetes

–          Smoking

–          Having a previous stroke

–          Heart disease, atrial fibrillation disease, carotid artery disease

–          Over weight

–          Drinking too much alcohol

HOW DO YOU REDUCE THE RISK OF A STROKE?

Anyone can be at risk for a stroke. There a few risk factors that may be out of your control, like: Being male and/or African American, over 55, or a family history of stroke are just a few. There are some measures that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke:

  1. If you smoke, STOP! Smoking doubles your risk.
  2. Know your blood pressure and find out if you have atrial fibrillation  (AF).
  3. Only drink alcohol in moderation.
  4. Know your cholesterol number and control your diabetes.
  5. Include at least 30 minutes of exercise in your daily routine.
  6. Consider a low-sodium, low fat diet.
  7. Check with your doctor to see if you have any circulation problems.

REMEMBER: If someone you know is experiencing signs of a stroke (sudden numbness in the face and/or extremities of the body, sudden confusion and/or difficulties speaking/understanding, trouble seeing in both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and sudden severe headache with no known cause) remember the following F.A.S.T.:

Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
Time If you observe any of these, call 9-1-1. Time is very important for a stroke victim – get him/her to the hospital IMMEDIATELY!

Be prepared!

F.A.S.T. saved the life of my loved one. I hope it will do the same for you and yours.

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