TIA or Stroke = Fear
You only have 3 choices in life;
Give it everything you've got!— Unknown
American Stroke Association Poster
Statistics According to the American Stroke Association:
- A stroke occurs every 40 seconds in America
- Every four minutes someone dies of stroke
- Forty percent of stroke deaths occur in males - sixty percent occur in females
- Fifteen percent of the most common type of strokes occur in adolescents and young adults
My Husband's Stroke
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the number four cause of death, and the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Why would I choose to write about this subject? Well, on August 28 my husband had what was diagnosed as a TIA (transient ischemic attack). On September 6 he was diagnosed with a stroke. How is he now? Fearful that one or both of these things will happen again!
Let's back up. On August 28, my husband woke up at 5:30 a.m. to a weird feeling in his left hand. When he looked at his hand it was in a fist. He couldn't open the fist. He took his right hand and opened the fist but it immediately closed back up. I was in a downstairs bedroom with my four year old grandson at the time. He decided he'd better get up and call me. What he didn't know was his entire left side was in a state of paralysis. He fell out of bed and crawled to the top of the stairs. The dog barking woke me, I went to see what was going on, and found my husband on the floor saying "help". Fortunately my brother lives with us and I called him to help me get my husband off the floor. When my husband looked in my eyes for that split second I wasn't sure who was more scared, him or me. He was trying to talk but his speech was very garbled and I could see the left side of his face and mouth were pulled way down.
By the time the ambulance delivered him to the hospital about an hour and a half later, his feelings were beginning to return and his speech was much clearer. Within about three hours he was fine. Of course he was kept in the hospital for twenty-four hours and a myriad of tests were run. No positive results. He was sent home with Lipitor (for cholesterol), Altace (for blood pressure), and told to take an 81 mg. aspirin every day.
Things went fine until September 6 at about 10:00 a.m. He had just finished eating some cereal and began to cough. When he stood up he lost his balance and knocked into our stools. I came running into the room and could see the left side of his face beginning to slack. I called 9-1-1. By the time the ambulance arrived he was all right again. However, this time when he got to the hospital the episodes began again and lasted on and off for about five hours. Again, all the tests were run; MRI, MRA, EEG, EKG, TEE, CAT Scan, echo-cardiogram, and a multitude of blood tests. Again, no findings. His medications were changed but this time we were told our neurologist was going to recommend a stroke specialist in another town, Albany to be exact.
Stroke comes at any time and to any person. My dear friend Hawaiianodysseus has written a first-hand account of his experience with a TIA. EVERYONE should read this to learn about the way stroke hits. His personal account is accurate and touching. Please read, you will not be sorry. Seven Miles of Gratitude
What is a Stroke?
A stroke actually takes place in the brain though it is a form of cardiovascular disease. When an artery is clogged or a blood clot bursts, part of the brain cannot get blood and/or oxygen. A stroke is the result. If the blood flow is restricted to a particular part of the body, that part of the body can't function.
In researching I found that my husband's stroke was in the right side of his brain. It is the right side of the brain that controls the left side of the body. If the stroke occurs in the brain stem it can affect both sides of the body. Fortunately, as in my husband's case, many effects of stroke can improve in time. Some immediately, some over a period of hours, days or months. However, that is not always the case. There are many stroke victims that do not recover.
What do you think?
Are you at risk of heart disease or stroke?
What Are the Signs of Stroke?
The American Stroke Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T.
F = Face drooping
A = Arm weakness
S = Speech Difficulty
T = Time to call 9-1-1
The signs listed above are fairly obvious. Take "Face" for instance. If one side of the face is drooping or numb that is a sign. You can ask the person to smile and you will see one side of the smile is lower, the smile is uneven. To check for arm weakness you can ask the person to raise both arms. The weak arm will drift downward. Speech is obvious, if it is slurred or the person is having difficulty speaking you know they're having a stroke. ANY of these symptoms, alone or together indicate a stroke and you should call 9-1-1 immediately to get them to a hospital. Don't try to drive them yourself. They may need oxygen or other treatment before reaching the hospital and you can't provide that.
There are other signs of stroke beyond F.A.S.T. For example, numbness or weakness in the leg, confusion, trouble seeing, dizziness or loss of balance and severe headache with an unknown cause. None of these symptoms should ever be taken lightly.
Immediate treatment not only minimizes the effects of stroke but can save a life!
Are you nervous about this? Technically you should be. As I pointed out in my title, TIA or stroke can equal fear. How you handle that fear is up to you. You can make changes to avoid it before it happens or deal with it after it happens.
Risk Factors For Stroke or Heart Disease
Vascular disease, the narrowing of your blood vessels or arteries, is responsible for heart disease AND stroke. You've heard it all before but I'm going to tell you again.
- Cholesterol. Yes, artery clogging cholesterol needs to be controlled and if it is already a problem it needs to be lowered. The higher your cholesterol the greater your risk. There is good cholesterol(HDL) and bad cholesterol(LDL), both need to be in balance.
- Overweight/Obesity. Without paying attention you can add about eight pounds every ten year, did you know that? It certainly can add up especially considering some inactivity and increase in caloric intake! Diet or change in diet is the way to curb this problem and help prevent diabetes.
- Inactivity. Easy...get some exercise. Get moving!
- High Blood Pressure. Recommended blood pressure is now 120/80.
- Diabetes. Watch your diet and exercise.
- Smoking. Quit! Every doctor, every specialist, every surgeon tells you immediately, quit smoking it is critical to your health. They don't say it to hear themselves talk, they mean it. Your health WILL improve if you quit, no matter how long you've smoked. If you've smoked for a long time your body will still see benefits within 20 minutes though it may take years to lower your heart attack risk.
- Family History. If someone in your family has heart disease please, get screening for yourself. Be sure to tell your doctor about this risk factor in your life.
- If you already have heart disease, diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm or carotid artery disease you are at the greatest risk and should see your doctor regularly.
Yes, you can "Give it everything you've got" and prevent a stroke. It is especially important if you've had a TIA. The National Stroke Association says there are 250,000 - 350,000 TIAs each year in the US. Knowing that what can you do to prevent having a stroke?
Previously looking at risk factors really showed you the main things to do; lower your cholesterol, keep your weight down, exercise, manage your blood pressure, control your diabetes, QUIT SMOKING, know your family history and your own history as it may pertain to heart problems or heart disease.
You've probably heard about taking an aspirin every day. If your stomach and health can tolerate it (ask your doctor) an 81 mg aspirin should be taken every day. It has been found to work as a preventive measure.
Get regular physical check ups. Prevention can often begin with a doctor visit. As with anything else, avoiding stress is a good idea. I have no idea how to do that but you can try. Maybe some quiet time alone to help your body rest will make up for the stress you can't avoid.
Obviously these are just suggestions. You can learn more from the American Stroke Association or the National Stroke Association.
I hope this has been helpful and maybe given you some ideas. I would certainly love to hear your opinions so please leave a comment.
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