May is National Stroke Awareness Month

With June 1st right around the corner, I wanted to make sure to squeeze this blog in before then. May is National Stroke Awareness month and it’s an incredibly important issue to bring awareness to. If you take only one thing from this post, take this: call 911 immediately if you or someone else is having a stroke. Early treatment will save lives and help prevent extensive damage caused by the stroke.

In order to function properly, our brains need a constant supply of blood from our arteries, which contains both oxygen and nutrients. A stroke occurs when an artery carrying blood to the brain is completely blocked (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). Each artery is responsible for carrying blood to different parts of the brain. When someone has a stroke, the brain doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs and that part of the brain begins to die. This is why someone who has suffered a stroke could have trouble with their speech or have difficulty walking for example.

The reason stroke awareness is so important is because it can be treated and prevented. By knowing what the risk factors are, you can take control of your lifestyle and better monitor your health. There are some risk factors that are out of your control, such as family history of heart disease, age, race and gender. Below is a list from the Mayo Clinic of treatable risk factors – meaning, you have control over these things or are able to manage them:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking cigarettes (or exposure to secondhand smoke)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Not being physically active
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • Heavy drinking
  • Use of illicit drugs
  • Use of some birth control pills

Being aware of the symptoms associated with having a stroke is crucial so you can quickly act to help yourself or someone else:

  • Sudden trouble walking (dizziness or loss of balance)
  • Sudden difficulty speaking and understanding (slurring your speech)
  • Paralysis or sudden numbness in face, arm or leg (especially on one side of your body)
  • Sudden headache (may be followed by vomiting or dizziness)
  • Sudden blurred vision
  • Fainting and/or sudden confusion

If you feel any of these symptoms or observe any of these happening to someone around you, call 911 immediately. DO NOT wait it out to see if symptoms disappear. The quicker the stroke is treated, the less brain damage you will have. There are tests that will be done to determine if, in fact, you had a stroke, the location of it and what caused it. There are also treatments and therapies to help a victim recover after a stroke has occurred.

Remember, stroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated right away!Stroke