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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

STROKE: KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEST DEFENSE


Imagine this scenario: During a BBQ, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00p m, Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.
WHAT IS A STROKE? Doctors often call a STROKE a BRAIN ATTACK to underscore the need for immediate medial attention. By far, the most common type of STROKE is an ISCHEMIC STROKE. It occurs when a blood clot suddenly interrupts blood flow to the brain. This deprives brain cells of oxygen, and they begin to die. When brain cells die, they are lost forever. Symptoms are related to the part of the brain affected by the STROKE. Damage to one area of the brain may make it difficult to speak. Damage to another are may cause a different complication, such as paralysis. For every minute that treatment is delayed, someone having an ISCHEMIC STROKE loses nearly 2 million brain cells, which is why a STROKE is an emergency. Think TIME LOST IS BRAIN TISSUE LOST. The LONGER an untreated STROKE goes on, the GREATER the damage and risk of long-term disability.

RECOGNIZE DANGER. STROKE symptoms may include SUDDEN:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble talking or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Dizziness, difficulty walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Seek EMERGENCY help @ the first sign of sudden symptoms. Doctors can treat an ISCHEMIC STROKE with tissue PLASMINOGEN activator (TPA), a clot-busting drug that can minimize the risk of lasting disability. But TPA must be given within three hours after STROKE symptoms being, so there is just a SMALL window opportunity. So do NOT wait for possible STROKE symptoms to WORSEN or IMPROVE. Even if symptoms vanish in moments, you still need to get help @ once. Temporary symptoms may be a sign of a transient ISCHEMIC attack (TIA), or MINI-STROKE. A TIA is a warning from your body that a FULL-BLOWN STROKE may happen soon.

DEFEND YOURSELF:

It is better to prevent a STROKE than to treat one. To lower your STROKE risk:

  • Know your blood pressure numbers. If your blood pressure is consistently above normal, work with your doctor to lower it.
  • Drop the extra pounds. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of your total weight may help prevent a STROKE.
  • Do not light up. Smoking doubles STROKE risk.
  • Eat wisely. A healthful diet can help you control three risk factors for STROKE – high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and excess body weight. Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Go easy on foods high in saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Move more. Walking briskly every day for as little as 30 minutes may lower risk.
  • Control diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar in the normal range helps lower your risk of STROKE.
  • Ask about aspirin. If you are older than 50, ask your doctor if taking aspirin will help protect you from STROKE.
  • Talk with your doctor if you have ATRIAL FIBRILLATION. A blood thinning medication may lower the increased risk of STROKE caused by this abnormal heart rhythm. Remember, a STROKE can change your life forever. Do everything you can to protect yourself.

Taking FAST action can save your brain. The most important thing to do @ the first sign of a STROKE is to get to a hospital quickly. Rapid medical treatment may limit damage to the brain and improve the chances of recovery. Use this simple FAST test to tell if medical attention is needed:

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person toe raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. An ambulance is the quickest way to get medical care.

NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately!! And describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

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