Prevent Drastic Life Change

May 27, 2014

Uncle John always thought that if he had a stroke, it would probably kill him. “We all have to go sometime from something” was his motto. What Uncle John did not think about was that a stroke might not kill him, but would lead living the rest of his life differently, perhaps in a nursing home, or unable to feed himself, talk or walk.

Stroke, is among the top ten leading cause of serious, long-term disability and fourth in causes of death in the U. S.  While a stroke is a leading cause of death, many people don’t realize that a stroke may not kill you, but can change your life drastically! What people also don’t realize is that most strokes are preventable if you recognize the early warning signs of a stroke and work to control the risk factors for stroke. Learn about the warning signs and the risk factors.

An important factor for minimizing the damage of a stroke is to recognize the warning signs and taking prompt action.  About 10% of stokes are preceded by “temporary strokes” (transient ischemic attacks or TIAs.)  A TIA has many of the same symptoms of a stroke but is lasts a relatively short period of time, usually 24 hours of less.  TIAs should not be ignored: they may signal a problem that can lead to a disabling or fatal stroke. 

Do you know the warning signs of a stroke? Have you (or someone close to you) ever: Suddenly felt weak in an arm, hand or leg?  Lost sensation on one side of your face or body?  Suddenly lost vision in one eye?  Suddenly have a hard time talking?  Not been able to understand what someone was saying?  Felt dizzy enough to lose balance?  Had the worst headache you’ve ever had?  If you have answered “yes” to any of the above, you may be missing IMPORTANT WARNING SIGNS OF STROKE.  These symptoms may occur as a single symptom or you can have more than one. They may last just a few minutes to twenty four hours.  The most important thing to do is to GET IMMEDIATE HELP. Ignoring these symptoms can have drastic results. Call 911 at any sign of a stroke. Don’t wait to get help.

Some risk factors for stroke are inherited, some are a function of aging but some are preventable.  Risk factors that cannot be changed are age; heredity; male gender; race; diabetes mellitus (but you can keep it under control); and prior stroke.  But there are other risk factors that you can address to reduce your risk of a stroke. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a primary cause of stroke. You need to measure your blood pressure and treat if it is high. Other lifestyles changes that can reduce the risk of stroke include: Getting medical treatment for heart disease or TIAs; quitting smoking; increasing physical activity; eating a diet to lower blood cholesterol; avoiding excessive alcohol intake; losing weight; taking care of diabetes, and getting checked for circulatory disorders.  Respond immediately if someone shows the symptoms of a stroke.  Get medical help right away.   Quick immediate intervention results in increased odds for survival or recovery.  If you have internet access, these websites can provide you with important information:  (Search  strokes) www.cdc.gov; www.stroke.org; www.nhlbi.nih.gov; www.mayoclinic.org; or www.nim.nih. If you do not have internet access, District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven or Woodbridge) can call Quinnipiack Valley Health District, 203 248-4528 or request via email, dculligan@qvhd.org.