When a senior is experiencing a stroke, it can be frightening for them and everyone around them. Strokes can occur without warning and are a leading cause of disability and death among older adults in the United States. Every second counts when it comes to treating someone who is having a stroke.
A few of the most important facts about strokes are:
- Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States
- Someone in this country has a stroke every 40 seconds
- Almost 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year
- Nearly 70% of people who have a stroke regain function with the help of a rehabilitation program
In honor of World Stroke Day on October 29, Five Star Senior Living is sharing a more in-depth look at what a stroke is, what causes it, and how you can lower your risk.
What Is a Stroke?
According to the American Heart Association, a stroke is the result of brain cells being deprived of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation is typically caused by a blood clot or a blood vessel bursting. As brain cells are deprived of oxygen, the cells begin to die.
The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the less likely the person is to survive or make a full recovery.
What Causes a Stroke?
The risk factors of a stroke can be broken down into several categories: lifestyle risks, medical risks, and genetic risks.
Lifestyle risks for stroke
A diet primarily comprised of sugar and saturated fats increases your stroke risk, as does consuming too much sodium. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption also contribute.
Researchers now say a sedentary lifestyle can be as dangerous as smoking, and that applies to stroke risk. You can lower your risk by exercising and avoiding sitting for long periods of time.
Medical conditions that increase your risk for stroke
A few health conditions that can increase the risk of stroke are: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, and problems with circulation.
If you have any of these medical problems, it’s important to discuss what you can do to lower your risk with your primary care physician.
Genetic risk factors of strokes
Some hereditary factors can increase the risk you will experience a stroke, including race and ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders are all at higher risk for experiencing a stroke than Caucasians.
6 Common Symptoms of a Stroke
It’s important for older adults and their caregivers to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The most common ones include:
- Drooping on one side of the face and body: This is a classic stroke symptom. It might be accompanied by numbness, drooling, and a loss of sensation.
- Speech problems: Slurred speech, difficulty forming words, and repetitive speech can be signs of an oncoming stroke.
- Sudden confusion: Because the brain is deprived of oxygen during a stroke, it can cause confusion and disorientation.
- Blurred or lost vision: Blurry vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes is another warning sign.
- Trouble walking: Strokes can also cause dizziness, balance problems, and difficulty walking.
- Sudden, severe headache: A sudden and extremely painful headache or pain in one specific location in the head sometimes accompanies a stroke.
We hope you will save this information and share it with the older adults and caregivers in your life.
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