May is stroke awareness month. I have done some reaserch, and the numbers are amazing! Stroke the #1 cause of disability. (I’m in the club!) 80% of strokes are preventable. (I should’ve had my blood pressure checked more!) The first cause is high blood pressure, the second is lack of exercise. Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the states. (Talk about dodging a bullet!) Others include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, heart or artery disease, and a bad diet. If you do (or may) have any of these, I would highly suggest changing your MO – method of operation. (You don’t want to have a stroke, it’s no fun! To say the least!) A stroke is a blockage in the arteries associated with the brain, thus cutting off blood flow and cutting off the oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The brain is an amazing natural marvel. Doctors haven’t got it completely figured out.
There are many different kinds of strokes that affect 800,000 people per year. Hemorrhagic is when an artery bursts and blood gets in the brain, consequencly blood flow stops. They are mostly less destructive. Ischemic is broken into two categories: Cerebral Embolism, which is a clot or blockage in the brain. (I assume that’s what I had. My blockage was in the brain stem. I had a MRI about about eight months earlier, and there was nothing to alarm them. So it developed quickly.) Cerebral Embolism is a clot somewhere else in the body that breaks off and travels to the brain. These ischemic strokes make up 87% of all strokes. Then there are TIAs. They are small strokes that usually go away, like little warning signs to a bigger stroke. Get medical attention so you can avoid a larger one. (I had these, but I was misdiagnosed with Ophthalmic Migraines. My vision would go super blurry, but they usually went away in 10 minutes or less. My head didn’t usually hurt, it was just inconvenient. I found out later they were TIAs or mini strokes.) The last is called Cytogenic “stroke of unknown cause.” It is actually an Ischemic stroke and 30% are Cytogenic. The doctors just can’t explain the cause. (Thanks, I probably fit in here, they can’t explain why my one clot in the brain stem happened so fast, and it was too dangerous to operate. So I am still blocked.)
Since it cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain, certain pods (or controllers) in the brain actually die. (In was told I had small veins growing around the blockage so I might get some function back. Grow little veins, grow! You can do it, I have faith in you!) That pod failure results in loss of some body function depending on where it is at. Some disabilities include, one side parlyzation (which leads to walking difficulty,) muscle weakness, hearing loss, emotional instability and voice alteration. (I have these. Mine was in the left side of the brain, thus my right side is paralyzed.) But others can be vision loss, memory loss, cognitive ability, difficulty or no swallowing, uncontrolled bad behavior, or total paralyzation. (Oh, how I am grateful not to have these!)
Now that you know all about strokes, how do you avoid them? Think FAST. F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for slurred speech, and T for time to call 911. Other signs could be vision disruptions (that’s what I had,) understanding other’s speech, numbness on a body part or one side of body, trouble walking or loss of balance, or a sudden painful headache. If you experience one or all of these, time is of the essence. Within three hours, a medical practioner can give you a clot busting drug so you might be able to suffer decreased problems or avoid death.
80% of strokes are preventable. The big thing to do is have your blood pressure checked often. That way, doctors can monitor your stroke risks. Don’t put it off! (Take it from a survivor!)
Wear a red ribbon for me!