Strokes are one of the top 7 threats to men’s health. Overall it is the third leading cause of death in America. It is a leading cause of disability to adults. But it is nowhere near as talked about as other issues such as heart diseases and cancer. The good news is that the National Stroke Association says that up to 80% of strokes are preventable. And even with a stroke knowing what to do for yourself or someone else exhibiting symptoms can greatly reduce the effects from the stroke.
May is Stroke Awareness Month in the U.S., a time for everyone – but especially men – to take a little time to educate themselves on stroke prevention and reaction to stroke symptoms.
What exactly is a Stroke? Per the NSA
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.
When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.
A fact sheet can be downloaded here. It includes prevention guidelines as well as how to react. I could just re-post them here but why reinvent the wheel. Some highlights though from prevention include:
- High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke. Have your blood pressure checked at least once each year—more often if you have a history of high blood pressure.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will begin to decrease.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. However – drinking a glass of wine or beer or one drink each day may lower your risk for stoke.
Really though one of the biggest things is to recognize symptoms and react to them. Timely care of someone suffering a stroke can greatly reduce the risks of damage to their brain. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. There are also two other types of stroke treatment available that might help reduce the effects of stroke. NSA uses the acronym F.A.S.T. to check out someone for symptoms:
- Face – ask them to smile, does one side of their face droop
- Arms – ask them to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward
- Speech – ask them to repeat a simple phrase, is their speech slurred
- Time – if you observe any of these sings act quickly and call 9-1-1