Acknowledging the month of May as “Stroke Awareness Month” offers advocates for stroke awareness, stroke survivors and their families and caregivers an opportunity to educate the public about the devastating and debilitating effects of stroke. I offer this page on my sites today exactly one year to the day that I had heart surgery to repair a PFO that caused my stroke. Last year I woke up from surgery and still was not sure what the future held as far as being able to return to work and family responsibilities. I did realize, however, that on May 1st I was given a new beginning. Today, I give thanks to all who helped in my recovery, from all the great staff at MGH and especially to my wife, my real stroke hero for helping me keep the faith and constantly encouraging me on my “journey”.
For more on my story and how I am determined to raise stroke awareness please visit my blog at know-stroke.org
I posted this page especially today so that you may Know-Stroke and Be Stroke Smart by:
Reducing Stroke Risk
Recognize Stroke Symptoms
Responding FAST by calling 911 What is stroke? A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery, or when a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When a stroke occurs, it kills brain cells in the immediate area. 2 types of stroke:
Ischemic strokes can occur two ways and are the most common, accounting for 84% of strokes. Hemorrhagic stroke is a second type of stroke which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. While these stroke are less common, they are more deadly.
Brain Attack The term “Brain Attack” gives stroke the most descriptive, realistic and powerful call to action. A brain attack should warrant the same degree of seriousness and emergency care as a heart attack. After all, your brain is your body’s most vital and delicate organ.Immediate response is crucial because every minute lost, from the onset of symptoms to the time of emergency contact, cuts into the limited window of opportunity for intervention.
CALL 911 for immediate assistance. Treatment is available and is most effective if administered within the first three hours of experiencing symptoms. Your chances of walking out of the hospital with little to no disability are improved by 30 percent if you receive t-PA, the only FDA-approved stroke treatment available.
Know these stroke facts:
Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability. Over the course of a lifetime, four out of every five American families will be touched by stroke.
There are ways to reduce your risk for stroke- (see below)
Every 45 seconds someone suffers a stroke, every 3 minutes someone dies from a stroke.
Twice as many women die from stroke every year than from breast cancer.
The most common stroke symptoms are:
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 see someone having these symptoms or experience any of these symptoms yourself, call 911 immediately. Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts.
Common misperceptions of stroke…
Stroke is not preventable Stroke cannot be treated Stroke only strikes the elderly Stroke recovery ends after the event/initial trauma to the brain
Realities of stroke are: Stroke is largely preventable. Stroke requires emergency treatment. Call 911 immediately if you experience or see someone with stroke symptoms. Anyone of any age can have a stroke. Stroke is a “Brain Attack” Stroke recovery can continue throughout life.
Stroke Prevention Guidelines: 1. Know your blood pressure. Have it checked at least annually. If it’s elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, increases stroke risk four to six times.2. Find out if you have atrial fibrillation - a type or irregular heartbeat. If left untreated, AF can increase stroke risk four to six times.
3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles stroke risk.
4. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Recent studies have suggested that modest alcohol consumption (up to two glasses of wine or alcohol equivalent) may reduce stroke risk.
5. Find out if you have high cholesterol. High cholesterol can indirectly increase stroke risk by putting people at greater risk of heart disease.
6. If you’re diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendation carefully to control your diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher stroke risk. This may be due to circulation problems that diabetes can cause.
7. Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine. Active people tend to have lower cholesterol levels. Regular exercise also seems to slow down or stop the clogging of blood vessels by deposits.
8. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet. Too much salt may contribute to high blood pressure and make it more difficult to control. A diet that’s low in fat will likely include vegetables, lean meats such as chicken and fish, low-fat dairy products and a limited number of eggs.
9. Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems which increase your risk for stroke.
10. If you experience any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. CALL 911! Every minute counts!
Resources: National Stroke Association (NSA) Hotline:1-800-STROKES and web site WWW.STROKE.ORG — provides stroke statistics, information and resources Offers print and audio-visual material on stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.