Educate yourself about strokes

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

Somehow, I didn’t get the memo until now that May is National Stroke Awareness Month.

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and strokes are a leading cause of disability.

What breaks my heart is that strokes can be prevented, and disability can be prevented or limited if people knew what to look for. About 80 percent of strokes are preventable, according to the American Stroke Association.

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Strokes can cause paralysis, vision problems, memory loss or entirely different behavior.

Some people don’t know what exactly a stroke is or the harm they can do, and it’s hard to prevent them when you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

A stroke happens when a clot blocks a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain, or stroke happens when that clot bursts in the vessel. Simply, a stroke occurs when oxygen and blood doesn’t get to parts of the brain.

When most people think of a stroke they think of the clot blocking the vessel, but there are two other types of strokes.

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when that blood vessel bursts, and they burst because the vessels are weak. These only account for 13 percent of all strokes.

A transient ischemic attack is a “mini-stroke” because they are usually temporary, but these kinds of strokes are huge warning signs to a bigger problem.

Now why would a 20-something in decent health care so much about strokes? I lost my father to a hemorrhagic stroke just over a year ago, and I think it’s important that people know what to do when it happens.

The best course of action when someone is having a stroke is to act F.A.S.T. The acronym stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.

Those are the major signs that a stroke is happening, and it’s important to call 911 immediately. Patients having a stroke should receive a clot-busting medication within 90 minutes of symptom onset.

The faster you move, the better someone’s chances of not needing surgery or not having any disability.

If you know someone, or you are someone, that has had a stroke and survived, please make sure to help them take care of themselves. It’s helpful to stop smoking, lose weight, be active and eat better to prevent a second stroke.

One in four survivors will have a second stroke, and second strokes are preventable with a healthy lifestyle.

Make sure to get your blood pressure checked, because blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Now that guidelines have changed, 130/80 or higher is defined as high blood pressure.

Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. Being educated about what strokes are and how to help can save lives every day.