One out of six people will have a stroke in their lifetime and it’s
not just the elderly at risk. A stroke can happen to anyone, at any time
and at any age so staying in-the-know is an important first step to reducing
your risk. May is Stroke Awareness Month and Melondie Edwards, MSN, RN,
CEN, Stroke Program Coordinator at CaroMont Health, is sharing important
information about strokes – from what a stroke is to risk factors
and how to respond.
Here is everything you need to know:
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain. When
a stroke occurs, brain cells are deprived of oxygen, causing the abilities
controlled by that area of the brain, such as memory or muscle control,
to be affected.
There are two types of strokes. The most common is an ischemic stroke which
occurs when there is a lack of blood flow or a clot cutting off the blood
flow to an area of the brain. The second type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic
stroke and is caused by a weakened blood vessel leak.
Who is at risk?
It’s true that a stroke can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any
time, but there are several factors that could cause you to be at a higher
risk for a stroke, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation
- Frequent alcohol consumption
- Family history
- Oral contraceptives
- Sleep apnea
To reduce your risk of a stroke: stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, maintain
a healthy weight and exercise daily.
Signs, Symptoms and What To Do
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side
of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you notice these symptoms, act FAST!
Face: ask the person to smile—does one side droop?
Arms: ask the person to raise both arms—does one arm seem weaker?
Speech: ask the person to say simple words—does their speech sound
slurred or different?
call 911 immediately and go to the nearest emergency department.
Life After a Stroke
If you or someone you know has already had a stroke, life can be quite
different. How a patient recovers can depend on what part of the brain
has been affected, how soon treatment was initiated and patient compliance
with medications. The patient could have mild, moderate or severe disabilities
and may have trouble performing everyday activities such as communicating,
eating, bathing, dressing and walking.
A strong support system is key to recovery. Many survivors become easily
frustrated or depressed. Family, friends and loved ones can help survivors
adjust to everyday living and can help with tasks such as meal preparation,
communication and transportation.
Stroke survivors should set measurable goals—both short and long
term. Since balance can be affected, staying active is critical as movement
and exercise not only improve health, but may also prevent a serious fall
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