Health and Safety Alert- Stroke Awareness

May National Stroke Awareness Month

May is here. Some of us have had personal experiences with family, friends or loved ones that have had or know someone that has experienced a stroke.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability. While most strokes occur in people aged 65 years and older, strokes can occur at any age. Learn the signs and symptoms and how you can lower your risk for stroke.

Strokes strike fast. You should too. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

New treatments are available that can reduce the damage caused by a stroke for some victims. But these treatments need to be given soon after the symptoms start.

Knowing the symptoms of stroke, calling 9-1-1 right away, and getting to a hospital are crucial to the most beneficial outcomes after having a stroke. The best treatment is to try to prevent a stroke by taking steps to lower your risk for stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.

For example, someone who has a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be paralyzed on one side or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

TYPES OF STROKES

Ischemic (Clots) Hemorrhagic (Bleed) TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)
Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. Two types of weakened blood vessels usually cause hemorrhagic stroke: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Often called a mini stroke, these warning strokes should be taken very seriously. TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is caused by a temporary clot.

Anyone can have a stroke. But your chances for having a stroke increase if you meet certain criteria. Some of these criteria, called risk factors, are beyond your control — such as being over age 55, being male, being African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke. Other stroke risk factors are controllable.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:

· Age

· Gender

· Race

· Family History

· Previous Stroke or TIA

Controllable Risk Factors:

· Stop Smoking

· Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure

· Prevent and Control Diabetes

· Maintain a healthy diet, weight and exercise regularly

Stroke Symptoms

People at risk and partners or caretakers of people at risk for stroke should be aware of the general symptoms. The stroke victim should get to the hospital as soon as possible after these warning signs appear. It is particularly important for people with migraines or frequent severe headaches to understand how to distinguish between their usual headaches and symptoms of stroke.

The National Stroke Association lists the following five warning signs of stroke. PEOPLE SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL FOR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE IF THEY EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS:

· Sudden numbness or weakness of the 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 or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay! If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.

Stroke Detection

The National Stroke Awareness Month program places emphasis on making the public aware about Acting FAST.

According to the National Stroke Association a person experiencing a stroke can be treated if people have acted FAST – 80% of strokes can also be prevented.

FAST (Face. Arms, Speech and Time) being an acronym for things to check in a suspected stroke victim:

A. Face- Have the person smile and check for signs of weakness on one side of the face

B. Arms-Have the person raise both arms at the same time and check for weakness or numbness in one or both the limbs

C. Speech-Ask the person to say a simple sentence(i.e. Lunch is ready), check for any slurred speech or trouble speaking

D. Time- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately and note the time the stroke signals started.

NOTE: New Sign of a Stroke ——– Stick out Your Tongue

Another ‘sign’ of a stroke is this: Ask the person to ‘stick’ out his tongue…if the tongue  is ‘crooked’, if it goes to one side or the other,  that is also an indication of a  stroke.

If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay!  If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.

Stay with the person they may feel fearful or anxious. Most often they do not understand what has happened to them. Offer comfort and reassurance, but never give them food or water and wait till Emergency Medical Service arrives.

Public Stroke Prevention Guidelines

1. Know your blood pressure. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. Have your blood pressure checked at least once each year—more often if you have a history of high blood pressure.

2. Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (AF). If you have AF, work with your doctor to manage it. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to collect in the chambers of your heart. This blood can form clots and cause a stroke. Your doctor can detect AF by carefully checking your pulse.

3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will begin to decrease.

4. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking a glass of wine or beer or one drink each day may lower your risk for stroke (provided that there is no other medical reason you should avoid alcohol).  Remember that alcohol is a drug – it can interact with other drugs you are taking, and alcohol is harmful if taken in large doses. If you don’t drink, don’t start.

5. Know your cholesterol number. If it is high, work with your doctor to control it. Lowering your cholesterol may reduce your stroke risk. High cholesterol can also indirectly increase stroke risk by putting you at greater risk of heart disease – an important stroke risk factor. Often times, high cholesterol can be controlled with diet and exercise; some individuals may require medication.

6. Control your diabetes. If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully because diabetes puts you at an increased risk for stroke. Your doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine that can help control your diabetes.

7. Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine. A brisk walk, swim or other exercise activity for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways, and may reduce your risk for stroke.

8. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet. By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and, most importantly, lower your risk for stroke.

9. Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems. If so, work with your doctor to control them. Fatty deposits can block arteries that carry blood from your heart to your brain. Sickle cell disease, severe anemia, or other diseases can cause stroke if left untreated.

10.  If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

The next CPR/First Aid class will be held May at 9:00 am in the Learning Center. Please contact me if you are interesting in learning how to save a life!
Information provided by www.stroke.org and American Red Cross

To receive more stroke awareness information  call 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537).

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald@plateautel.com