The popular phrase, “time is of the essence,” can be applicable in many different situations. It is particularly true when someone is experiencing a stroke. In honor of National Stroke Prevention Month, we are highlighting the important and time-sensitive symptoms Indiana seniors and caregivers need to know to identify if they or a loved one might be experiencing a stroke.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood is blocked from reaching a portion of the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health, when oxygen is prevented from entering the brain for several minutes, the brain cells begin to die. This can sometimes lead to permanent damage.
A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention from a physician. Without medical intervention during a stroke episode, long-term disability, lasting brain damage or even death can occur.
The startling facts from the National Stroke Association include:
- Nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year
- Someone in America experiences a stroke every 40 seconds
- Stroke is currently the fifth leading cause of death
- Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke
- Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable
Act FAST: The Warning Signs of a Stroke
According to the National Stroke Association, F-A-S-T is “an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke.”
F is for FACE: Look at the person’s face for signs of disturbance. Typically, when experiencing a stroke, one side of the mouth will appear droopy or lop-sided.
A is for ARMS: If you’ve identified facial recognition of a stroke, check the arms next. Ask your loved one to raise both arms over their head. If one arm drifts downward, they may be having a stroke.
S is for SPEECH: Strokes are often characterized by speech disruptions because blood flow to the speech-controlled section of the brain is interrupted. If your loved one is experiencing a stroke, they may have slurred speech or strange speech patterns.
T is for TIME: Time is truly of the essence when it comes to strokes. If you believe that someone you are with is experiencing a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Stroke Prevention Tips
The good news is there are steps Indiana seniors can take to prevent a stroke from occurring. While there are no guarantees, being proactive about your health can have a positive effect as you age.
Stroke prevention begins with lifestyle management:
- Eating a healthy diet, focused on lean meats and fresh fruits and veggies.
- Getting regular exercise, even if that means walking for 30 minutes a day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Abstaining from smoking cigarettes which can increase plaque buildup in your arteries
- Limiting your alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day for men and 1 per day for women
Medical management can also help to prevent strokes:
- See your physician every year for a physical
- Keep your cholesterol levels in check
- Monitor your blood pressure and take steps to lower your blood pressure if it is high
- Be extra vigilant if you have diabetes
Our final suggestion is to stay on high alert if heart disease runs in your family. Treating heart problems early on can help to prevent a stroke.
The Five Star Living communities in Indiana use an innovative, evidence-based approach to health and wellness during retirement. We know that living your best life means taking the necessary steps to be healthy, including being mindful of what you can do to prevent strokes.