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Is Dad a Potential Stroke Victim? Get the Facts!

By Meghana Giridhar,
April 28

Stroke is the number 4 cause of death in the United States. In the US, someone dies of a stroke once every four minutes. Most people assume that strokes and heart attacks mean the same thing but there is a difference. A stroke is an attack to the brain when blood flow and oxygen to that area is blocked. Blood vessels associated with the brain either get clogged or burst. A heart attack, as the name suggests, occurs when blood flow to the heart is stopped, affecting circulation. According to the American Stroke Association: •    African-Americans have nearly twice the risk for a first-ever stroke than white people, and a much higher death rate from stroke. •    Over the past 10 years, the death rate from stroke has fallen about 35 percent and the number of stroke deaths has dropped about 21 percent. •    About 795,000 people have a stroke every year. •    Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds. •    Stroke causes 1 of every 20 deaths in the U.S. •    Stroke is a leading cause of disability. •    Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability. There are 2 main types of stroke: •    Ischemic Stroke: When stroke is caused by a clot affecting blood flow to the brain •    Hemorrhagic Stroke: When stroke is due to a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain. Strokes can take place suddenly without prior warning. Understanding the signs and symptoms is a key aspect of ensuring immediate medical help when it happens. Here are some common warning signs, the very first and most important being, sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg. Others include: •    Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding •    Sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes •    Sudden trouble walking •    Dizziness •    Severe headache with no known cause accompanied by vomiting •    Confusion When stoke occurs, time is of the essence. Strokes need to be diagnosed immediately. Damage to the brain is mitigated depending on how quickly the treatment is administered. Depending on the intensity of the stroke, typical tests and treatment options include: •    Physical examination: Symptoms and medical history is evaluated. Blood pressure is checked and in particular, blood vessels at the back of the eyes are examined to check for clotting. •    Blood Tests: This is to understand the speed at which the senior’s blood clots, level of chemicals and presence of any infection •    CT Scans: X-ray tests are administered to check for hemorrhages, strokes, or tumors within the brain •    MRI Scan: This is to find the location of damaged brain tissue through radio waves and magnets •    Cerebral Angiogram: To get a clear view of the brain arteries, dyes are injected into the blood vessels to make them appear under X-rays •    Echocardiogram: A detailed image of the heart is created to check for clots that could have causes the stroke. The recovery process is dependent on: •    Amount of damage to the brain •    Timing of rehabilitation – the earlier, the better. It also depends on how the senior reacts to the treatment option chosen by the doctor. Rehabilitation is always recommended for full recovery. Some rehabilitation techniques include: •    Speech Therapy: This can help with understanding how to talk, best communication styles including gestures and tones. •    Physical Therapy: This is for rebuilding movement and coordination. •    Occupational Therapy: This assists in carrying out daily activities such as bathing, cooking etc. Other useful measures that can help include: •    Focusing on small goals •    Tackling depression right away by talking to doctors or mental health professionals •    Joining a support group As is evident, getting back to a normal way of life is a long, hard road. It is best to start taking preventive measures today. Some simple ways to protect yourself include: •    Avoiding drugs •    Regular exercise •    Control over diabetes and blood pressure •    No smoking •    Eating meals low in cholesterol and saturated fats •    Controlling weight May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Learning all you can about strokes is the first step is being prepared. References: Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Coordinator and is part of eCareDiary's founding team.  In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms. If you found this article useful, please click the “Share This” icon below to make it available to your family and friends.

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