Author: Olivia Madewell Chances are, we all know at least one person who has had a stroke. Sometimes it is more distanced from us – perhaps a coworker’s aunt – and it’s easy to sign a card that is passed around the office and just forget about it. Other times, though, it is our own parent or grandparent, and we feel its acute effects.
The truth is that approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States alone. This is roughly one stroke every 40 seconds, each one impacting far more than just a single life. However, that’s not the end of the story. Every person has the potential to influence the outcome of a stroke and affect the lives around them for the better. How can you help?
1) Know the symptoms. Strokes symptoms tend to follow a pattern.
- Speech – Strokes can affect both creating and comprehending speech. Attempts to speak may produce jumbled or slurred language, or there may be confusion when trying to understand another’s words.
- Paralysis/Numbness/Weakness – Strokes can affect the face, arms, or legs, but often on just one side of the body. This symptom may appear suddenly.
- Vision – Strokes can affect one or both eyes. This may be through blurring, blackness, or seeing double.
- Headache – Strokes can affect the head by creating sudden or severe pain. Nausea may go along with a headache, varying from dizziness to vomiting to loss of consciousness.
- Walking – Strokes can affect coordination and balance. This may present itself as stumbling and can overlap with the dizziness of a headache.
2) Take action. A common test for stroke is called F.A.S.T., comprised of four simple steps.
- Face – Ask the person to smile. Watch for drooping on one side.
- Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Watch for weakness in the forms of one arm dropping/drifting or degrees of immobility.
- Speech – Ask the person to speak. Listen for slurring or other strangeness.
- Time – Call 911 immediately if any of these signs are present.
Remember: It’s important to make note of the time at which symptoms are first noticed. This is important information for doctors to have for treatment. If symptoms disappear within several minutes, call 911 anyway. This could lead to full strokes or more damage later if left alone.
Increased medical speed and care in terms of treatment, as well as greater control of blood pressure, diet, and smoking, has helped to decrease the number of deaths from strokes by 30% in the last eleven years. While doctors will do all they can for stroke patients, population awareness is one of the greatest and most underappreciated factors in this number change.
The earlier strokes are recognized and action is taken, the better the chances of treatment preventing death and extensive damage. Strokes can shatter lives, so let’s each do what we can to keep the effects of strokes as minimal as possible for everyone.
If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we at the Plus One Foundation are eager to help. Visit our website to see how we can support you on the road to recovery.
For more information on stroke symptoms and causes, please read Mayo Clinic’s article.
Sources: - “Stroke Signs and Symptoms” - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - “Signs and Symptoms of Stroke” - Johns Hopkins Medicine - “Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Decline in Deaths from Heart Disease and Stroke -- United States, 1900-1999” - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - “Stroke Statistics” - The Internet Stroke Center - “Scientists Report Stroke Mortality is Decreasing” - Counsel & Heal - “Stroke Deaths Steeply Decline in US” - Newsmax Health