Annually 130,000 Americans die from a stroke, 80% of which may have been preventable by making good health decisions. As the leading cause for serious, long-term disabilities, it is important to look at the causes of stroke, and what to do when someone is experiencing one.
A stroke happens when a clot or rupture disrupts blood flow to the brain, as oxygen rich blood is unable to get to the brain, cells begin to die. Once one cell dies, a chain reaction begins, damaging nearby cells, which will die without quick medical attention. Depending on the location, size, severity and type of blood clot or rupture, an individual can lose motor function, sense of smell, taste, touch, balance, the ability to speak, understand, think, remember, and the ability to use their limbs.
At Danella, our Wellness Program is designed to help our employees and their families recognize the health diseases and risks that may affect their lives in the long run. Many people have high blood pressure, and this equals a higher risk of stroke. Nearly 1 in 6 American adults have high blood pressure and do not know about it. As one of the chief risk factors for stroke, high blood pressure is anything above the normal rate of 120/80. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Individuals with high blood pressure can address their symptoms by speaking with a medical professional, partaking in a healthier diet, and practicing relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, regular exercise, listening to music). By taking steps to reduce high blood pressure, an individual can relieve stress on the vessels pumping blood to the brain.
High blood pressure is not the only thing that can cause a stroke. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug abuse are also contributing factors. Diseases like Diabetes, Carotid Artery Disease, Heart Disease, and Mini-Strokes (Transient Ischemic Attacks) can also contribute to an individual’s stroke risk due to pre-existent conditions. Genetics, such as race, gender, age, and family history, can also play a large part of having a stroke. Strokes do not discriminate based on age, and anyone can have one, even small children.
Strokes are treatable, but you must act F.A.S.T. to help prevent permanent disability. Here’s how to tell when someone is having a stroke:
- F – Face Drooping – Ask the person to smile. If the face is drooping, the smile is uneven, or facial muscles numb, this often indicates a stroke.
- A – Arm Weakness – Are the arms weak or numb? When raised up, does one arm drift downward?
- S – Speech Difficulty – Is the person’s speech slurred, or are they hard to understand? Repeating a simple sentence can indicate if someone is having trouble speaking.
- T – Time to Call 911 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, it is important to call 911 immediately so that the person gets to the hospital fast. Also, write down the time when the first symptoms appeared for the doctors and emergency responders.
It is important to note, when someone is having a stroke, you should call 911, rather than driving them to the hospital. EMTs or Paramedics often can begin treating an individual before they reach the care of a doctor. Even if you are unsure if it is the symptoms of a stroke, call 911, sometimes other symptoms appear separately from F.A.S.T. signs. For more information on symptoms, visit the Stroke Association website at strokeassociation.org.
Together, we can help end strokes through taking preventive measures and acting F.A.S.T.!
Sources: BHSOnline.com, StrokeAssociation.org