May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May 18, 2022

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and, since stroke is the leading cause of death for Americans, recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with this medical condition is crucial.

Types of Strokes

There are three types of strokes; ischemic, transient ischemic attack (aka a mini-stroke), and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke and mini-stroke result from a blockage of blood flow to the brain, whereas hemorrhagic strokes occur due to a spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage in or around the brain.

Know the First Signs of a Stroke

Recognizing the signs that indicate an individual is experiencing a stroke can greatly affect his or her prognosis.

Learning the meaning of the acronym F.A.S.T. is probably the easiest way to remember the signs that indicate a person is having a stroke.

is for Face Drooping

A is for Arm Weakness

is for Speech Difficulty

T is for it’s Time to dial 9-1-1

Facial Drooping

Have the individual smile: If his or her smile is crooked, he or she may be having a stroke.

Arm Weakness

Ask the individual to lift both of his or her arms. Does one arm drift downward, making it appear weak? Is one of his or her arms numb? If so, he or she may be experiencing a stroke.

Speech Difficulty

Ask the individual to repeat an easy sentence. If he or she has slurred speech, or cannot accurately repeat the sentence back, this can indicate that the individual is having a stroke.

Time to Call 9-1-1

If he or she displays any of the symptoms listed above, call 9-1-1 right away.

Other symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Vision changes in one eye or in both eyes
  • Problems walking due to a loss of balance
  • Dizziness
  • The sudden onset of a severe headache
  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Having trouble speaking
  • A loss of coordination

The Ischemic Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90% of the strokes people in the U.S. suffer are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot is blocking the blood flow into the brain. Today, there is a medication available (i.e., Alteplase [Activase]) that helps reduce the amount of damage an ischemic stroke and a transient ischemic attack (TIA) can cause.

Alteplase (Activase) Can Treat Ischemic Strokes

Alteplase (Activase) is a tPA (i.e., a tissue plasminogen activator). This medication works by dissolving the clot that is blocking the blood flow to the brain. It is this blockage causing the stroke. After dissolving the clot, the blood can flow freely once again. However, to be effective, alteplase (Activase) must be administered via intravenous infusion within 4 ½ hours of symptom onset.

Stroke Statistics Provided By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot is blocking the blood that is flowing to the brain, which is why tPA medications like alteplase (Activase) are an effective treatment for ischemic strokes.

According to the CDC:

  • Stroke is the leading cause of death for Americans. One of the factors that affects an individual’s risk of having a stroke is his or her race: Blacks are more likely than Whites to suffer and die from a stroke.
  • Every 40 seconds, somebody in America suffers a stroke.
  • More than 50% of the stroke survivors who are 65 years of age and older lose some of their mobility.
  • Every year, of the more than 795,000 people who suffer a stroke, about 610,000 of these individuals have never experienced a stroke.
  • Someone in the U.S. dies due to a stroke every 3½ minutes.
  • In 2020, of the deaths linked to cardiovascular disease, one in six occurred due to the individual suffering a stroke.

Issues that increase the likelihood someone will have a stroke include:

  • Having high cholesterol levels.
  • Being a smoker.
  • Having diabetes.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Having high blood pressure.

Stroke Prevention Tips

Eat Healthily

To reduce hypertension and decrease cholesterol levels, individuals should create a healthy diet plan. Foods to avoid include those that are high in trans-fat and saturated fats. In addition, limiting salt intake can reduce an individual’s blood pressure.

Remain Physically Active

Staying active helps people lower their cholesterol levels, decrease their blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

To determine if they are at a healthy weight, individuals can check their body mass index (BMI) by clicking here.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Consuming large amounts of alcohol can raise an individual’s blood pressure, as well as increase his or her triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form of fat that can harden within the arteries. Women should only have one alcoholic beverage a day, and men should only have two alcoholic drinks a day.

Do Not Use Products that Contain Nicotine

Products that contain nicotine include chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, smoking cessation products, and second-hand smoke.

Smoking cigarettes and using other products that contain nicotine increases the individual’s likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke inhibits the body’s ability to heal because it reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry.

These negative aspects are also a concern when individuals are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Safety is always the most important factor, which is why Mission Home Health fully screens each team member so that families can feel confident about their loved one’s caregiver.

Mission Home Health’s highly experienced and compassionate licensed clinicians provide exceptional in-home care. The goal of our medical professionals is to make everyday life easier for patients and their families. To learn more about our services, please contact Mission Home Health by filling out our online form. To find your nearest location, please click here.