I hope you’re not thinking that strokes only affect old people and you’re not near that age group to worry about this topic. Yet, you’re probably somewhat familiar with what to watch out for and what to do if someone seems to be having a heart attack!
Strokes don’t just affect the elderly and they are the 3rd leading cause of death and the number 1 cause of disability in the U.S. How about familiarizing yourself with the warning signs and primary methods of treatment? Knowing them may come in handy someday – for yourself, a loved one or a neighbor.
A neighbor is shoveling snow and his arm becomes weak and his speech sounds slurred when he calls over his dog. Only 50% of stroke victims can name even one sign of a stroke!
Here’s a great way to remember the major warning signs of a stroke: the “FAST” mnemonic:
Face – facial droop (is a person’s smile uneven or is one side of their face drooping?)
Arm – arm weakness or paralysis (is one arm weak or feeling numb? Ask them to raise both arms and one may drift downward).
Speech – slurred speech (is the person unable to speak or difficult to understand?).
Time – this is a neurologic emergency! (If you’re suspicious they are having a stroke, it’s time to call 911).
There are a variety of risk factors making us more susceptible to having a stroke. Some of them include hypertension, tobacco use, Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, history of TIA’s, atrial fibrillation, valvular disease, obesity, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
Here’s a little tidbit about what causes a stroke. You can think of them as being hemorrhagic (bleeding due to a ruptured blood vessel) or ischemic (less blood supply to that area of the brain due to an obstruction). For instance, the ischemic type can occur due to an embolism or a thrombus lodged in a brain’s blood vessel.
So what about treatment? Obviously prevention is the best management. Talk to your doctor about low dose aspirin as a secondary prevention. Eating fish once or more per month is also touted to reduce your risk for stroke.
But here’s your big role in this! If a stroke is occurring, it’s a race against the clock to get medical treatment that can prevent lasting damage. Call 911 and make a note of the time as medical personnel will want to know. The first line of treatment is tPA. That’s intravenous tissue plasminogen activator. It’s a clot-busting drug that must be used within three hours. It helps restore blood flow to the brain and increase chances of survival.
Secondly, there is a relatively small time window for endovascular treatment of an acute ischemic stroke from the stroke’s onset (up to eight hours). If the patient failed tPA treatment or they aren’t eligible for intravenous tPA, then a neurointerventional radiologist can perform a minimally invasive surgery, using a thin catheter tube to insert a stent into the blocked artery and remove the blood clot.
Okey dokey, now you’ve been armed with food for thought regarding stroke awareness and prevention. Consider making life style changes to reduce your risk factors for stroke and remember the FAST acronym. After all, getting out in the crisp cold and clearing some fluffy snow off your front path can be a safe and invigorating activity. As the following pictures demonstrate, there are easy and difficult ways to shovel snow!
Happy New Year everyone and consider gifting yourself or a loved one my fun health book "Younger Next Decade: After Fifty, the Transitional Decade, and what You Need to Know."
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This is one of my favorites….full of oatmeal and blueberries (which I freeze during the summer and pull out for this recipe). I also don't make them as muffins...but in cake or loaf pans and adjust the baking time accordingly.
Lemon Blueberry Oat Muffins
1 cup cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1 cup fat-free milk (I use 2%)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Nutritional Analysis: One muffin equals 166 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 26 mg cholesterol, 158 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1 fat.
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