This is one of those blogs that are difficult to create and read…

But, I feel that it’s a timely topic. Each year, more than 795,000 people die of strokes. And, because I’ve lost family members to this illness, I felt it was information I wanted to share.

My Dad died after having a stroke and my Mom has had a TIA – a mini stroke.  Strokes are the leading cause of disability for adults and not just for older adults.  Your risk factors increase as you get older but young people are also susceptible.  According to the National Stroke Association, almost 1/3 of strokes occur in people under the age of 64. 

I don’t know who this is…..but I love her “Sass”!

 Stroke risk factors are similar to those that can cause a heart attack.  Foremost among them are high blood pressure and A-Fib – atrial fibrillation.  Estimates are that almost 80% of strokes are preventable.  Your lifestyle choices also enter into the stroke equation.  Don’t smoke, exercise regularly, be aware of your food intake and see your PCP regularly.

     A recent article in the Silver Sneakers Newsletter by Barbara Brody highlighted some things you should know about strokes.  Find the article here:  

      One interesting thing is that women are more susceptible to strokes than men.  Strokes kill more women each year than breast cancer!  Women also have their own risk factors such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.  You can find some abstracts of articles on gender differences here:

     You have 90 minutes to get definitive treatment for the most common stroke – an ischemic stroke where a blood clot or plaque can block a cerebral artery.  So, what can we do to help our loved ones.  The most important thing besides helping with lifestyle changes is to recognize the signs of a stroke.  Know the acronym FAST:

  • Face – a droopy smile or facial numbness
  • Arm – a weak arm. Have the person raise both arms – is one weaker?
  • Speech – slurred or garbled speech or inability to express ones thoughts.
  • Time – if you have any concerns call 911

I happened to be on the phone with my Mom when she had her TIA.  Her speech became different and I heard her fall.  She picked up the phone and was not making any sense.  I kept her on the phone and immediately called 911 in Denver who quickly connected me with her Nevada local 911.  Paramedics arrived within 10 minutes of the first signs.

My mother survived her stroke with no visible signs of having had it. Evidently, her stroke was due to a condition called “A-Fib”. She was given a pacemaker immediately and is on medication. Now, for someone like my mother had not taken medication in the past, taking so many meds has been challenging. She is eating more real foods and getting outside to walk a couple of times a day (I also drag her to the gym when she visits).

Be sure you take time to locate the closest “stroke” center. Not all hospitals have expertise in treating stroke victims. This will save you time and stress in getting proper treatment for your loved one.

Most importantly, see your parents / grandparents often. And, have them share their stories with you (there are many video companies that will capture them telling their stories for you to share with your children in the future). Teach them to pay attention to their health and how they are feeling every day. I have just chosen a food delivery company to make sure my mother eats well even when she feels it’s too boring to cook for one.

I hope this is information you can use. And, of course, I hope you never have to use it!

Stay well and Learn the Signs of Stroke,

xoxo, Rosanna
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