May is National Stroke Awareness Month and it is sponsored by the National Stroke Association. This annual event is intended to engage individuals, community organizations, and businesses in the effort to educate the public about how to stop stroke through risk factor management, act "F.A.S.T." to increase recognition of and response to stroke symptoms, and spread hope about recovery from stroke.
A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. When either of these things happens, 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. (National Stroke Association)
According to the Center for Disease Control, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from a stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of adult disability. Demographic factors such as family history, age, sex, and race/ethnicity can all play a role in an individual's stroke risk. Regardless of your background, however, there are several things you can do to lower your chances of having a stroke. Up to 80% of all strokes can be prevented through lifestyle modifications and/or medication. The following are recommendations by the Department of Health and Human Services to help prevent a stroke:
Control blood pressure - More than half of the world's stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
Appropriate a spirin therapy: Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
Eat a healthy diet that's low in sodium.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Prevent or control diabetes.
Limit your alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women).
One of the most important goals of National Stroke Awareness Month is increasing public recognition of stroke symptoms and the importance of getting immediate emergency medical assistance. When stroke patients receive FDA-approved clot-busting medications within three hours of their first symptoms, they have a significantly reduced risk of experiencing permanent brain damage and long-term disability from the most common type of stroke.
In recent years, the National Stroke Association has emphasized the importance of responding to stroke using the "F.A.S.T." method:
- F = FACE - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- A = ARM - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S = SPEECH - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
- T = TIME - If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 9-1-1.
Also call 911 immediately if you notice any of these sudden symptoms:
- Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Severe headache with no known cause.
Caregivers and family members play a prominent role throughout the post-stroke recovery process. Caregivers and family members are essential to successful home care and too often are ignored. Caring for stroke survivors at home can cause high levels of emotional, mental and physical stress. In addition to distress, disruption of employment and family life makes caregiving very challenging. Family caregivers can promote positive post-stroke recovery outcomes; however, they need to care for themselves as well. Consider using the services that Synergy HomeCare of North Orange County can provide for you or someone you care for who has had a stroke.
Synergy HomeCare of North Orange County can:
- Assist with doctor's appointments, medication reminders, and exercises.
- Provide transportation, housekeeping and meal preparation.
- Provide the stroke survivor with physical, mental and emotional support.
- Assist the stroke survivor with daily activities such as personal care and hygiene.
Synergy HomeCare of North Orange County provides services for most cities in North Orange County including Anaheim, Placentia, Tustin, Brea, Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Orange and more. Synergy HomeCare offers a free, no-obligation visit to your home to assess your personal care needs. We provide quality, compassionate care, with no contracts, and no minimums. Contact us today and get the help you need!