SAN DIEGO: As Stroke Awareness Month comes to an end, it is important to remain vigilant for the signs of an impending stroke.
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S.
Every 40 seconds an American will suffer from a stroke, attributing to over 130,000 deaths. With approximately 795,000 Americans suffering from a stroke each year, according to stroke center.org, it is estimated that 600,000 stroke events occur for the first time and 185,000 are recurrent.
As a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, a stroke is primarily
caused by blockages of an artery or arteries.
There are three primary types of stroke
A stroke occurs suddenly and requires immediate medical attention.
-Ischemic stroke is the most common type and accounts for approximately 80% of stroke occurrences, caused by a clot or blockage.
-Intracerebral hemorrhage is sudden rupture of an artery within the brain.
-Subarachnoid hemorrhage is caused by rupture of an artery, which fills the space surrounding the brain.
To increase the odds of disability or death from a stroke, it is critical that it be medically treated within 2 1/2 hours of onset.
The common warning signs of experiencing the onset of a stroke may include weakness of limbs, numbness, difficulty speaking, difficulty seeing, dizziness, loss of balance, trouble walking and oftentimes headache.
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association jointly agree that experiencing symptoms of a stroke require a FAST approach if a person’s:
- Face is drooping
- Arm has weakness
- Speech is difficult
- Time to call 911 FAST!
Preventing a stroke can be done through simple lifestyle choices. Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke.
One of the best ways to avoid a stroke in your future is to never start smoking or immediately quit smoking altogether.
Maintaining healthy blood pressure is essential, as is lowering high levels of cholesterol in the body.
Being diabetic also increases the risks for having a stroke.
basic, commonly known health tenets of eating a low-fat healthy diet, participating in regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake, and stress reduction will go a long way to help with stroke prevention.
For those Americans who suffer from a stroke each year, the road to recovery is not simple for most.
Following a stroke, it is common for there to be difficulties with cognition, problem-solving, speech and maintaining emotional equilibrium. Mobility and difficulty swallowing might also occur.
Receiving ongoing advice, medication, and directions from a qualified physician is critical for both recovery and post-recovery, ensuring the best-possible quality of life.
Seek out the best professionals
A variety of healthcare professionals, including physical therapy, psychology, speech pathologist, assistive technology, nutrition and visual therapy might be required.
For those who are married, partnered or who have family members who are involved in the care and/or ongoing rehabilitation of a stroke victim.
Seeking caregiver support classes and/or family counseling by a specialist in stroke recovery could be very helpful, and it would be helpful to talk with others who are experiencing the same life-altering occurrences.
And for stroke victims in personal relationships, sexual relations are entirely possible for most.
According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 15 million stroke sufferers each year world-wide, and 5 million of them die as a result.
The good news is that the death rate of stroke victims is on the decline, likely due to greater societal awareness of what behaviors lead to a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking cessation.
Stroke victims can still lead a productive life
A stroke could happen to anyone, at any time and in any age group. With the desire to be as independent as possible while insisting upon the highest possible quality of life, living a meaningful life following a stroke is entirely possible.
A couple years ago I talked with a spokesperson from Former U.S. Senator Mark Kirk’s office. Kirk is known for his philosophy of “never giving up.” He was working on the REGROW Act (Reliable and Effective Growth for Regenerative Health Options that Improve Wellness).
As a stroke survivor who underwent an intensive year-long rehabilitation, including 10 months relearning how to walk, Kirk explained,
“As a stroke survivor, I know how much potential new regenerative therapies have for thousands of other stroke survivors nationwide.”
If there is good fortune in the ability to survive a stroke, there is also the opportunity to move forward with gratitude for life itself, while gaining a new sense of purpose.
And maybe that is the reason why there are some stroke survivors who would say that having a stroke was the best thing that ever happened to them.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!