When you think of a person having a stroke you probably picture someone older and possibly already has ailments. This is not true; it is a myth that only older adults have strokes. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, including teenagers, children, newborns, and unborn babies. The risk of stroke in children is greatest in the first year of life and during the period of right before birth to right after birth. Stroke remains among the top ten causes of death in children.
So what is a stroke? According to stroke.org, simply put it is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.
What are the signs of a stroke? SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding, SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes, SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause. FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. Recognition of stroke and calling 9-1-1 will determine how quickly someone will receive help and treatment. Getting to a hospital rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery.
F – FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T – TIME: THIS IS THE BIGGEST ONE!! If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! The quicker the person seeks medical attention, the less damage that may be done.
What can you do? Can you prevent a stroke? Yes, in most cases a stroke can be prevented, however, if you have a family history of strokes, you could be prone to having a stroke. But knowing what you can do to help prevent a stroke could keep you from having one. First thing you need to do is identify and review the risk factors, then find ways to reduce those risks through lifestyle changes or medication if it is necessary. Some of the risk factors are; eating habits, physical activity, smoking and drinking. Lifestyle risk factors are habits or behaviors people choose to engage in. If changed, they can directly affect some medical risk factors by improving them.
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