WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE YOU LOVED WAS HAVING A STROKE?
Knowing how to recognise warning signs of stroke can save lives and a fast response can reduce the damage caused by stroke.
You love your partner, your father, your mother, in fact there are many people in your life that you don’t want to lose, so have you learned what the warning signs of stroke are, so you can do all you can to prevent losing your loved ones to a potential stroke? It only takes a few minutes to learn and can be worth a lifetime of reward. If there is even one person in your life that you love, please keep reading and remember these life-saving warning signs.
- Trouble seeing from one or both eyes – or blurred vision.
- Sudden or severe headache with no known cause.
- Sudden onset of walking ability, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
What are strokes?
A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain. This is called an ischemic stroke. Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts. These are called haemorrhagic stroke. When the stroke symptoms last less than an hour, this is what is called a transient ischemic attack, TIA, or mini-stroke. A lack of oxygen and glucose flowing to the brain leads to the death of brain cells and to brain damage, often resulting in an impairment in speech, movement, and memory.
The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured, and how severely it is injured. Strokes can cause sudden weakness, loss of sensations, or difficulty with speaking, seeing, or walking, since different parts of the brain control different areas of the body and its functions. It is usually the area immediately surrounding the part of the brain that suffered the stroke that is affected. Strokes are not always accompanied by a headache, and therefore may be completely painless. It is imperative to recognize the warning signs of stroke and to get immediate medical attention if they occur, by calling your local emergency number or an ambulance.
What Are The Causes Of Stroke?
As I mentioned earlier, stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. So while we may not know what causes it, we do know, thanks to researchers and scientists, what the risk factors are. The cold truth is anyone can suffer from stroke. Although many risk factors for stroke are out of our control, several can be kept in line through proper nutrition, exercise and consistent medical care. Risk factors for stroke include, but are not limited to the following:
- Anyone over age 55
- Male – men are at higher risk than women
- A family history of stroke
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Cigarette smoking
- Cardiovascular disease
- A previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- High levels of homocysteine (an amino acid in blood)
- Birth control use or other hormone therapy
- Heavy use of alcohol
- African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander
- Obesity and overweight are more high risk than those of average weight
- Cocaine or amphetamine use
- Family history of diabetes or stroke
- Heart rhythm disturbances
- Physical inactivity
Taking a moment to reflect on what we can do to reduce our risk might be in order here. Obviously, there are some things that are out of our control, but whatever we can do to reduce the risk is worth the effort. Things like our gender, age, family history, cardiovascular disease, previous stroke, ethnicity, and heart rhythm disturbances are not within our control. The more factors that you check off, the more you need to do to reduce your risk by controlling the risk factors that are within your physical abilities. If you smoke, quit now and your risk decreases within the first 1 -3 months to half of that of someone who continues to smoke. If you drink, do so in moderation. Two or more drinks per day classifies you as a heavy drinker.
If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure. A healthy, low sodium diet, plays an important role in reducing the risk of stroke. Proper exercise also keeps the blood flowing better and keeps you fit. Moderate exercise every day never hurt anyone, and makes you feel better about yourself too. If you have high cholesterol, follow your doctor’s advice to lower your bad levels and raise the good cholesterol. If you are a diabetic, make sure you keep it monitored and use your insulin accordingly. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to maintain the healthiest weight possible. Being over or underweight is not healthy and can put extra stress on your heart. Understandably, some people have real medical issues that prevent maintaining a healthy weight, but again, you and your doctor are the best people to decide why you have the problem, and what you can do to rectify it. For your own sake, and the sake of loved ones, do what you can to remain as fit as possible.
The Importance Of Timing
Resulting disabilities can and will vary depending on stroke location and severity. After a stroke, brain cells die in the affected areas resulting to damaged or even lost neurons. Patients will often suffer physical disabilities such as partial loss of mobility or unilateral paralysis, sensory loss, language disorders, visual disorders, and even memory loss. The loss of ability to communicate verbally or comprehend speech is also possible. Level of recovery will vary from person to person. The faster a rehabilitation program is implemented, the better chance for recovery.
As I mentioned, the types and degrees of disability that follow a stroke depend upon which area of the brain is damaged and how much is damaged. It is difficult to compare one individual’s disability to another, since every stroke can damage slightly different parts and amounts of the brain. Generally, stroke can cause five types of disabilities:
- Paralysis or problems controlling movement
- Sensory disturbances including pain
- Problems using or understanding language
- Problems with thinking and memory
- Emotional disturbances.
There are many scientific advances being made yearly, and the advancement of managing and deterring the effects of stroke is just one. One popular treatment you may heard of id the infamous ‘clot-busting’ drugs used by emergency rooms worldwide, and has attained much success. The faster the response time during a stroke, the better the chances of recovery after. Recovery is not likely going to be a hoped-for 100%, but are far better than that of someone who did not receive speedy medical attention. Doctors work hard to treat the stroke patient as efficiently as possible, but can only help if the patient has been brought to their attention. Act as fast as you can if you suspect someone is having a stroke .. it can mean the difference between living independently and having to live with assistance for the rest of their lives.
What Can Be Done To Help After The Damage Has Been Done?
There are plenty of ways to help a stroke victim become as productive and independent as possible, and in some cases, back to normal routine, as before the stroke. After suffering a stroke, the victim may have to learn a different ways of thinking, speaking and moving. Stroke rehabilitation is a learning process where the rehabilitation team will work closely with the victim and caregiver. Setting goals, making a plan of recovery and participating in treatment that will give strength and confidence to live as independently as possible is key to leading the fullest life possible afterwards. Rehab begins when the doctor feels it is medically sound and the patient can benefit the most from it. Rehab services are offered in different places and in varied settings. Where someone might go will depend on what is offered in their local area and the type of rehab program that best suits the person’s recovery needs. Rehab services provided in different places include, in-patient programs in acute care hospitals, rehab hospitals or long-term care facilities. Out-patient programs in different types of facilities are also an option, as is in-home care.
Rehabilitation is an important part of recovering from stroke. The aim of a rehabilitation program is to help the patient regain as much independence as possible. This does not mean that life will return exactly as it was before the stroke. Rehabilitation cannot cure damage to the brain, but rehabilitation can help relearn the best possible use of the body. No one can say exactly how long a stroke rehabilitation program should last. Each program is tailored to meet each stroke survivor’s individual needs. A program can also change as thee patient’s condition improves.
In short, do not neglect your health or the health of your family. There is no greater gift than the gift of showing someone you love them by looking out for their health and being aware of what to do in any crisis. Although we can never be prepared for all potential crisis’, we can do everything realistic to be aware of the possibilities and be as informed as we can be. Learn the signs of stroke, and show someone you care today.