Reducing your risk for a stroke

Reducing your risk of a stroke

Chances are you have had or know someone who has had a stroke. It happens to over 795,000 Americans every year, according to the Center for Disease Control. That is one person every 40 seconds. And one person dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. Those are some scary statistics.

What is a stroke? A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts; in both cases, causing brain cells to die from lack of oxygen and necessary nutrients. 87% of all strokes are ischemic, meaning there is a blockage of blood flow to the brain. The second type of stroke is hemorrhagic, or bleeding in or around the brain. In order to get treatment right away, you need to know the signs of someone having a stroke. Here is a good way to act FAST:

F- face: is the person’s face drooping on one side (check their smile)

A- ask them to raise their arms- is one side weaker than the other

S- is the person’s speech impaired

T- time is critical- call 911 if you see any of these signs

This is a quick way to assess someone, but there may be other symptoms as well. These can include numbness and weakness in the facial muscles, arms and legs particularly on one side of the body. A person may also be confused, have difficulty speaking or understanding. They may also experience dizziness, lack of coordination, or a headache. Women may also experience nausea, fast heartbeat and hiccups.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately; some damage from strokes can be mitigated if treatment is received in the first 3 hours. They will typically use CT and MRI scans as well as blood flow tests to determine if someone is having a stroke and the cause (clot versus leakage). Medical professionals can administer a thrombolytic drug to break up blood clots. For hemorrhagic strokes, endovascular procedures and surgery may be used to stop bleeding or repair weak vessels.

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to strokes, some within our control. Those at highest risk of stroke are people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smokers, obese, and diabetics. One in three adults have at least one of these underlying conditions or habits that can be controlled. If medical treatment is received immediately, the person may be able to avoid long term disabilities and with therapy (physical and speech), can return to an independent lifestyle. Some people who have had a stroke have a lasting effects of muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of their body, affecting their mobility, speech and even their independence. This can result in the need for help with transportation, cooking, cleaning, and self-care. If you or someone you know needs a little extra help at home, call Sisters for Seniors at 941-882-2203 to see how we can help!!

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