Spotlight on Stroke Awareness
The recent deaths of director John Singleton, 51, and actor Luke Perry, 52,—who both died after suffering a massive stroke according to their representatives—have put stroke into the spotlight. Their deaths demonstrate that, even though the majority of strokes occur in those over the age of 65, strokes can affect younger adults and people of all ages.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, an ideal time to bring attention to the nation’s fifth leading cause of death. Each year, more than 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke, and more than 140,000 of them die. Stroke is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
Fortunately, you can take steps to help prevent strokes. And, by recognizing the signs of a stroke and getting immediate treatment, you can reduce your chance of developing stroke-related disabilities.
At Health Edco, we create innovative educational models and materials that are ideal resources to explain how strokes occur and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle for stroke prevention. Great for patient and student education, our products are the perfect teaching tools to reinforce the message of stroke awareness.
What Is a Stroke?
Sometimes called a “brain attack,” a stroke is a serious medical emergency. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced. Within minutes, brain cells in the area begin to die without the oxygen and nutrients they need to function.
There are two main types of strokes. About 80 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot narrows or blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Clots can result from fatty deposits (plaque) that build up in an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Clots can also come from other parts of the body, typically the heart, and travel through the bloodstream to become clogged in brain arteries.
The second main type of stroke is hemorrhagic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures.
depicts artery damage and hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is similar to an ischemic stroke because it often results from a blood clot. Sometimes called a “mini-stroke,” a TIA can develop when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked for only a short period of time by a clot. TIAs cause sudden, brief changes in brain function but do not cause any lasting or permanent damage. However, having a TIA puts you at high risk for a future stroke.
What Are Possible Complications of Stroke?
In addition to being a leading cause of death, strokes can cause temporary or permanent disabilities throughout the body. The damage that occurs depends on the part of the brain affected and how long the blood supply was blocked. Possible complications include paralysis, loss of muscle movement, problems with speaking or swallowing, bladder and bowel problems, trouble with thinking, memory loss, and emotional difficulties.
a comprehensive program in stroke and heart disease.
What Are Warning Signs of Stroke?
Knowing the signs of stroke and getting immediate help are essential for a better outcome. The symptoms are often distinctive because they come on suddenly. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 right away so that medical personnel can begin immediate assessment and treatment.
Warning Signs of Stroke Include:
- Sudden paralysis, numbness, or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, which often occurs on one side of the body
- Sudden difficulty with coordination, trouble walking, or loss of balance
- Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding
- Suddenly difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
- Sudden onset of severe headache, which may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or altered consciousness
Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those for stroke. Always call 911 right away if you or someone else is having symptoms of a stroke. Don’t delay—a stroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
Why Does Immediate Treatment for Stroke Matter?
When it comes to stroke, time is of the essence. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the likelihood of severe damage and permanent disability. Most strokes are ischemic strokes, which have a 3-hour window to begin treatment with a drug that can dissolve blood clots that are blocking blood flow to the brain. However, a stroke victim needs to be assessed within 60 minutes of having stroke for evaluation and treatment.
How Can Strokes Be Prevented?
Some risk factors for stroke are outside your control. For example, the risk of stroke increases with age, strokes are more common among women, and African Americans are at significantly greater risk of stroke. However, you can work to control many of the risk factors for stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle is important. Work to maintain a proper weight by eating a healthy diet with limited saturated fat and cholesterol and by getting regular physical activity. Don’t use illegal drugs: Some drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, increase the risk for stroke or TIA.
Treatable Risk Factors for Stroke Include:
Our What You Should Know About High Blood Pressure Folding Display
covers stroke as a common consequence of high blood pressure.
- High Blood Pressure—High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke, but many people don’t realize that they have high blood pressure because it usually has no symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare professional to keep it under control.
covers stroke as a common consequence of high blood pressure.
- Smoking—If you smoke, quit. Smoking has been linked to plaque buildup in the carotid artery, which is the main artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain. Smoking also increases blood pressure, makes blood more likely to clot, and decreases the amount of oxygen the blood carries to the brain. The benefits of quitting smoking begin from the moment you quit. Talk to your healthcare professional about ways to help you quit.
- Diabetes—If you have diabetes, work with your healthcare professional to control your blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels throughout your body, including your brain.
- Heart Disease—Common heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and cardiomyopathy, can cause blood clots that can lead to a stroke. Artery damage leading to stroke often results from atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of plaque within the arterial walls that can cause arteries to harden and thicken. If you have heart disease, work with your healthcare professional to manage it.
Talk to your healthcare professional to learn more about your personal risk for stroke and the steps you can take to reduce your risk. Always follow the directives of your healthcare professional.
to depict stroke and other effects of uncontrolled high blood pressure.
To learn more about our educational models and resources that highlight stroke and other aspects of cardiovascular health, please visit our Heart Health Products Section. Also, check out our popular Consequences Displays with 3-D models that cover stroke as a possible consequence of high blood pressure (shown above), smoking, diabetes, obesity, an inactive lifestyle, and drug abuse.
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