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26 November, 2014

What Every Caretaker Should Know About Strokes

As prevalent as strokes are in the United States, most folks don’t seem to know much about them. We know everyone isn’t a medical professional and that’s OK. You don’t have to have a high level of health literacy to learn these few things that could save someone’s life.

A stroke is an event caused by the interruption or shortage of blood to the brain. This reduction causes cells to die as nutrients and oxygen don’t make their way to the brain. Each type of stroke (ischemic, hemorrhagic, or transient ischemic attack) has a specific root cause that triggers the phenomena.

Who’s at Risk?

People belonging to these groups are at greater risk:

  • Overweight
  • 55 or older
  • Family history of strokes
  • Heavy drinkers
  • Drug users
  • People who don’t exercise

What Should I do?

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating patients who have recently suffered a stroke. Research indicates that treatment given within 3 hours of the first symptom is a game changer. Strokes occur rapidly, and symptoms appear suddenly. Signs of a stroke include confusion, difficulty walking and numbness of the face or an entire side of the body.

The acronym “FAST” has been used to help people remember warning signs of a stroke.

F- Face drooping

A- Arm weakness

S- Speech difficulty

T- Time to call 911

Don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk. There are things you can do to reduce your chance of having a stroke:

  • Eat a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Use alcohol moderately or abstain altogether.
  • Avoid illicit drugs.
  • Quit using tobacco products.
  • Treat sleep apnea if you have it.

Stokes are a large health concern, especially with seniors. Every 4 seconds someone in the United States experiences a stroke. It is the 4th leading cause of death.

The human brain often suffers irreparable damage after a stroke. Though treatments exist with varying degrees of success, they are most successful when they follow early detection. Memorize FAST and be prepared to act quickly if you suspect a stroke in a loved one.

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