September 15-21 is slated Stroke Awareness Week

By Katherine Miller

STAFF WRITER

CROWLEY – National stroke week, which is held annually in September, began Monday, September 15 and will last until September 21.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted very suddenly. Strokes occur when the artery is blocked by either a blood clot or plaque buildup, or because the artery breaks or bursts. This year alone, almost 800,000 Americans will have a stroke, and about 150,000 will die. Almost 75 percent of stroke patients are over the age of 65. Many victims who survive live with moderate to severe brain damage.

Some strokes occur for unknown reasons, but most are the result of high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels, and drug abuse, warns Donna Bertrand, a nurse with Dr. Katira’s office in Crowley.

Bertrand informed that there are many symptoms that are indicative of a stroke, and if recognized early enough, risk of brain damage is lessened. These symptoms include, tingling, numbness, or loss of feeling in the face, arm, or leg, especially in one side of the body. Other symptoms include weakness or inability to move muscles in the face, arm, or leg, especially one side of the body. Also, a person may have trouble speaking clearly, trouble understanding spoken words, and experience loss of vision particularly in one eye. Also, a victim may experience severe headache, dizziness, lack of coordination, or loss of balance.

In the event that someone around you has a stroke, the first thing to do is call 911, and if possible, get the victim to the hospital, Bertrand informed. By remembering these four simple steps, FAST, each letter standing for something, you will be able to act efficiently. These steps are: Face, Ask the person to smile. If one side droops, it may suggest a stroke. Arms, ask the person to hold out both arms, If one arm droops, it may suggest a stroke. Speech, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Slurred speech, garbled words, or other errors are indicators; Time is of the utmost importance in the situation.

In the last few years, advancements have been made for stroke victim treatment. Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, speech therapy, nursing care, good nutrition, support devices, such as walkers, training to prevent falls, and/or medication.

Health experts have reported that most strokes are predictable and preventable. A few simple lifestyle changes that may help include:

•Controlling blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is one that is below 120/80. Those with high blood pressure should aim for 140/90.

•Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

•Eat right. A healthy diet includes one with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and cutting down on salt and fats.

•Exercise regularly.

•Control your weight by exercise and dieting.

•Control blood sugar.

•Improve your cholesterol levels. If no success with diet and exercise, statin drugs may reduce your risk of stroke by 15 to 30 percent.

•Limit alcohol to one drink for women, and two for men.

After experiencing a stroke, it is very important that a patient’s life should return as much to normal as possible, with as much support as possible. Both the patient and their family may be frightened and afraid of the unknown. For more information, talk to your physician, or you may visit the Pri-Med Patient Education Center at www.patientedu.org/stroke.

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