“Because I care I want you to know the facts about stroke.
“Because I care I will work to break down the myths surrounding stroke.
“Because I care I want you to learn how to minimize your risk of stroke.
“Because I care I want you to have access to the best possible treatment.
“Because I care I will ensure that you receive quality treatment, care and support.
“Because I care I will be with you every step of the way towards your full recovery.”
World Stoke Day is Tuesday and the theme for 2013 is “Because I care…” This theme attempts to correct misinformation about the disease and celebrates the importance of caregivers who know the reality of stroke first hand.
A stroke is also known as cerebrovascular disease and occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, a part of the brain cannot receive oxygen and begins to die.
The signs of stroke can be recognized by remembering to act F.A.S.T. The “F” in F.A.S.T. reminds us to check the face for sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body.
A possible stroke victim can be asked to smile or puff out their cheeks.
The “A” is to check for numbness or weakness in the arms. Ask the patient to raise both arms above their head or to squeeze your fingers while looking for equal movement or strength in both arms.
The “S” is a check of speech. Can the victim repeat a simple sentence back to you?
You are looking for confusion, trouble speaking or understanding. The caregiver of one stroke victim stated, “Mom kept forgetting the names of everyday items, like the TV or car.”
The “T” is to remind us to note the time that symptoms first began and to act fast. Time saved really is brain saved.
Treatment with clot-busting drugs is more effective the earlier it is administered. The same caregiver said, “Maybe if we had insisted and taken Mom to the hospital right away she wouldn’t have lost the ability to speak.”
If you or anyone around you experiences these symptoms, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately. Other symptoms of a stroke may include sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
According to the World Stroke Organization, nearly 6 million people die annually from stroke. That equals one death every six seconds.
Furthermore, one in six people worldwide will suffer a stroke during their lives. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Franklin County.
To reduce your risk of having a stroke, control your blood pressure since hypertension is the most common and treatable risk factor for stroke; have good control of diabetes; lower your cholesterol levels; exercise regularly; quit smoking; and lose weight.
Show that you care by sharing this information with your family and friends.
If you would like to learn more about stroke prevalence, prevention or treatment please visit www.strokeassociation.org.
Judy Mattingly holds a master of arts in Health Communication degree and is the accreditation coordinator at the Franklin County Health Department, 100 Glenns Creek Road.