Thursday, May 6, 2010

You are Going to Give Me a Stroke!

One of the many causes I promote deals with Stroke. I work for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. (It's one in the same.)

May is Stroke Awareness month. Let me tell you - this one, The Stroke, terrifies me.

See... I have hypertension, aka High Blood Pressure. Just one of the major causes of a Stroke. I pay close attention to this disease in particular.

With that being said, let me tell you some basic facts about Stroke. Educate yourself - people. Seriously... time loss could mean death.

What is a Stroke?
Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease. It affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

What Are the Types of Stroke?

Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (ischemic strokes) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (Hemorrhagic or bleeding strokes).

Diagnosis of Stroke

When someone has shown symptoms of a stroke or a TIA (transient ischemic attack), a doctor will gather information and make a diagnosis. A doctor may use many different tests.

Warning Signs Prior to a Stroke
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to others.

 Warning signs include sudden:

-Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

-Trouble speaking or understanding

-Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

-Difficulty walking


-Loss of balance or coordination

-Severe headache with no known cause

In the past, doctors couldn't do much to help stroke victims. That's not true today. Now stroke doesn't have to lead to disability or death. The key is to recognize a stroke and get to the hospital immediately. The clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can reduce long-term disability if it's given within three hours after an ischemic stroke starts. (Ischemic strokes are caused by clots and are by far the most common type of stroke.)

Unfortunately, tPA isn't used as often as it could be because many people don't seek care quickly. Don't you make that mistake. If you or someone near you has the warning signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Has your local hospital set up the appropriate steps for treating stroke as an emergency? One way to find out is by checking the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organization's (JCAHO) list of certified primary stroke centers. If your local hospital isn't currently on this list, they still may be prepared to treat stroke. Contact the emergency room administrator and ask if the hospital has acute stroke protocols that include guidelines for the use of tPA. Knowing which facilities are equipped to treat stroke can save valuable time.

Here is some more "sobering" thoughts - Heart disease and stroke are major health risks for all people. But African Americans are at particularly high risk.

Consider this:

Blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever strokes compared to whites.

Blacks have higher death rates for stroke compared to whites.

The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is the highest in the world.

Among non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older, 62.9 percent of men and 77.2 percent of women are overweight or obese.

In 2001, 27.7 percent of black or African-Americans only, used any tobacco product. Heavy cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person's risk for stroke when compared to light smokers.

Black women have higher prevalence rates of high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes than white women.

There is hope - go to the Power To End Stroke website. There are tons of resources!

The burden of stroke is greater among African Americans than in any other group. In fact, not only do blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with whites, but blacks 35-54 years old have four times the relative risk for stroke.

But there is hope. You have the power to fight stroke - and win! By following these three simple steps, you can help protect yourself against stroke.

Reduce your chances of having a stroke by learning the risk factors and working with your doctor to help reduce your risk.

Recognize the warning signs of a stroke. Stroke is a medical emergency. Every second counts!

Respond by calling 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone close to you is having warning signs of stroke. Then check the time. When did the first symptom start? You'll be asked this important question later.

It's time to act now! Take the Power to End Stroke Pledge, commit to living a healthier lifestyle and use your power to stop stroke today.

Several factors increase the risk for stroke. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of having a stroke. You can't control some factors, but you can modify, treat or control others to lower your risk.
What risk factors can I control?

You can change many conditions through diet and exercise. Others may need medication. Your best defense is knowledge. Talk to your doctor to find out if you have any of these health risks.

What are risk factors I can't change?

Family history and race

If a parent, grandparent, brother or sister has had a stroke, your risk of having one is greater. African Americans’ risk for stroke is up to four times higher than non-Hispanic whites. This is due in part to the increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity among blacks.

Get to the root of your family’s health by creating your own family health history tree.


Strokes can happen to people of any age, even children — especially those with sickle cell disease. But the older you are, the greater your risk for stroke.


More men than women have a stroke each year. But at all ages, more women than men die of stroke. In 2002, more than 11,000 black females and 7,800 black males died of stroke.

Previous stroke or heart attack

If you’ve had a stroke, you’re at a much higher risk for having another one. If you’ve had a heart attack, this also raises your risk for having a stroke.

Please do not fool yourself into thinking you are too young to have a stroke. Working in the field that I do, I have met a 2 year old, a 16 year old, a 26 year old, and many men and women in their 30s and beyond who HAVE suffered a stroke.

My biggest warning is to my friends out there on birth control pills. If you smoke and take the pill, please be warned that it can cause a stroke. I have met many young women who made the mistake and ended up a victim. Unfortunately, they will never be the same again.

Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox!


Kristine said...

Hi Nicole!..
I enjoyed very much reading your posts as I sit here fiddling with Caspar's Head!(yep! the Magi)a sculpt for my
Your writings are so informative as well as entertaining!
Oh and I vote YES!!..on the guitar!!
;-) I helped my son get a electric and a acoustic,(pawnshops are great places to look);-) and he's doing Great with the free online guitar lessons ;-)).

Miel Abeille said...

The irony that you posted this today. May 6 is (was) my Grandmother's birthday. She passed away 2.5yrs ago from a stroke. Because her husband recognized what was happening, she was brought to the hospital immediately. She lived for almost 3 weeks. We got to say goodbye. Knowing the signs of a stroke can save families from a lot of heartache. Great post!

Anonymous said...

My dad's mother has had several strokes, though she says it's left one side feeling a little permanently strange, there hasn't been any horribly significant damage. She still walks everyday, and is really very health conscious. I think that's why she's made it through without severe complications.

There is a very serious history of heart problems on my dad's side, not just with my grandmother but my grandpa and my dad and his siblings too, so I've made myself aware of the signs. Also, like you said, since I'm on birth control I do not smoke (nor have I ever), and it scares me that I know people who do.

Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing your stories!


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