Monday, May 6, 2013

3 Tips to Strike Out Strokes

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes can kill or severely harm the person who is afflicted. Most people are aware of what a “heart attack” is, but not as many are familiar with the idea of a “brain attack”.  What is a stroke? A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted.  This can occur from either a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain or, from a blood vessel that ruptures as occurs in hemorrhagic stroke. Without proper blood flow, brain cells die.

Learn how to prevent strokes, the signs of a stroke in evolution and the care that needs to be initiated when someone is having a stroke. The life you save may be your own, someone you love, a co-worker or a stranger needing help.

1. Reduce your chances of having a stroke by leading a healthy lifestyle and eliminating known risk factors.
  • Don’t smoke! Smoking damages blood vessels.
  • Monitor your blood pressure to make sure it stays within a normal range.  High blood pressure damages blood vessels in the body too. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your height and body frame. Extra weight raises your blood pressure. 
  • Exercise (even walking) for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week to help maintain a healthy blood pressure by helping to control weight and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.  
  • Reduce your intake of salt. High salt intake raises blood pressure. 
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fat and sugars both of which promote clogged arteries.  
  • Eat a healthy diet that contains healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids).
  • Don’t drink alcohol or drink only in moderation (if you decide to drink) which means less than two drinks per day.
  • If you have A-Fib (atrial fibrillation) follow your physician's or healthcare provider's medical advice regarding treatment and controlling it.
  • Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to see if daily aspirin therapy is appropriate for you. 
  • If you have Diabetes, learn measures to control it. If you don't have Diabetes, learn about preventing it. 
2. Stroke symptoms can vary and can include (but are not limited to) difficulty speaking or thinking; weakness or paralysis, particularly on one side of the body, unusual sensations or tingling. Learn how to quickly recognize a stroke by learning about the term FAST (face, arms, speech, talking). Quick recognition is important so you can call 911 immediately for help. The sooner medical treatment is initiated the better.

3. What to do: A stroke is an immediate life threatening medical emergency. Call 911 to activate your local EMS (Emergency Medical System) so paramedics can respond to provide initial treatment then transport the patient to a local ED (emergency department) for further care.