A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and food. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. If you ever experience a stroke or someone having a stroke, you will never forget it. It can be a very a scary thing both to the person experiencing the event, as well as those with the person.
A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications. The good news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans now die of stroke than was the case even 15 years ago.
What Does A Stroke Look Like?
FAST stands for face, arms, speech and time, and is being used as part of a campaign by the Stroke Awareness Foundation to educate the public about warning signs of stroke and seek proper medical services immediately. If you think a person is having a stroke, call 9-1-1, especially if the person has trouble with these basic commands.
Face Does one side of the face droop? Ask the person to smile.
Arms Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Is speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time If the person shows any of these symptoms, CALL 9-1-1 Immediately! Ask to be transported to a Certified Stroke Center.
Begin Treating The Stroke At Home:
The one thing you can do to help someone having a stroke is to have them CHEW an ASPIRIN. I recommend everyone keeping aspirin 325mg in their home, for this very reason. Aspirin is cheap, can be purchased in any convenience store and could save your life. Even if you give someone an aspirin and they are not experiencing a stroke, it is unlikely that one dose would cause them any harm.
You can give them the aspirin, while you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive. An aspirin does not mean this is not an emergency. It is simply a way to begin early treatment.
How Can You Prevent A Stroke?
You can prevent the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the U.S. A study in an August issue of the journal Circulation suggests that leading a low-risk lifestyle. So, what is a low-risk lifestyle?
Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Know Your Numbers!! It is important to keep your blood pressure controlled, preferably under 120/80. Chronically uncontrolled blood pressure promotes hardening of arteries and buildup of plaque and a temporary spike in blood pressure can raise the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain. Have your cholesterol checked yearly. Here is a link to my blog about blood pressure:
If you are taking medication for hypertension or high cholesterol, DO NOT stop it unless directed by your health care provider.
Never Start Smoke or Quit Smoking immediately. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers on average have double the risk of ischemic stroke. And a study in an August issue of the journal Stroke found a dose-response in female subjects, meaning that the more cigarettes a woman smoked per day, the higher her odds of suffering a stroke. Two packs per day boosted risk of stroke to nine times that of nonsmokers. The same study found that when subjects quit smoking, their risk of stroke returned to normal within two years.
Eat your veggies. As if you need yet another reason to eat your vegetables, the American Heart Association recommends people at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke, should make sure they get several servings a day. One reason is to increase intake of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, which have been associated with lower blood levels of homocysteine. Epidemiological studies suggest that high levels of this amino acid are associated with elevated rates of heart disease and stroke. Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 can also be found in fortified grains and cereals.
Take aspirin and a blood thinner, if your doctor recommends it. Low-dose aspirin is regularly prescribed to prevent a second heart attack, stroke, or “mini-stroke” and also is given to patients who are at high risk of having such a cardiovascular event. In those with abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, the blood thinner warfarin is often also prescribed to help prevent stroke. But some heart patients cannot safely take warfarin, which can cause dangerous bleeding and requires that the patient follow strict dietary limitations. A study published online in a March issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that the incidence of stroke in those who cannot take warfarin went down by a third (from 3.4 percent to 2.4 percent per year) when they took Plavix along with aspirin.
Get off the Couch!! – I don’t recommend people to start running, if they don’t walk first. Start slow! For good health, we need about 30 mins of cardiovascular exercise 5-6 days a week. Do something that gets your heart pumping and blood moving. There are plenty of websites that will help track your progress. I will be honest; there is no way I can run 5-6 days a week. So, I try to run 3-4 days a week for about 1 hour.
You don’t have to join a gym, but definitely check with your insurance. Some insurances are actually paying for your gym membership, which I think is brilliant. After all, it is cheaper that paying for a hospital stay after a stroke! Just saying…
If you think that you or your loved one may be suffering a stroke, call “911” immediately. Do not try and call your health care provider or anyone else. Time is of the essence in treating a stroke. So, DO NOT wait!! While you are waiting on the ambulance, CHEW AN ASPIRIN.
Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you think you might be experiencing a stroke! It may save your life!!