May is Stroke Awareness Month
May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about stroke and its devastating effects. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability. Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, but it is especially common among older adults.
That's why it's important for seniors and their caregivers to educate themselves on the warning signs of stroke and how to prevent it.
Why Should You Educate Yourself on Symptoms of Stroke?
A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. The longer a person goes without treatment, the higher the risk of permanent brain damage, disability, or death. That's why it's crucial to educate yourself and your loved ones about the symptoms of a stroke and what to do in case of an emergency. Knowing the warning signs of stroke can save lives and prevent long-term disability.
What Exactly is a Stroke?
A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. As a result, brain cells begin to die within minutes.
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic strokes are the most common type. They occur when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain, cutting off blood flow to that area. Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain tissue. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including high blood pressure, head trauma, or an aneurysm.
What are the Symptoms of Stroke and How to Deal With Them?
The symptoms of stroke can vary depending on the type and severity. However, the most common signs include sudden:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Severe headache with no known cause
- Trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. In fact, time is critical in treating stroke, and every second counts. Emergency responders can also provide life-saving treatment and transport the person to the hospital quickly.
How Can You Prevent Getting a Stroke?
While not all strokes can be prevented, there are steps that seniors and their caregivers can take to raise stroke awareness and reduce their risk:
- Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke. Make sure to monitor blood pressure regularly and follow your doctor's recommendations for managing it.
- Control cholesterol levels: High cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which can increase the risk of stroke. Eating a healthy diet and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor can help manage cholesterol levels.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of stroke. Seniors can talk to their doctor about safe exercises they can do at home or in a supervised setting.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke. Seniors should talk to their doctor about smoking cessation options.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy can help maintain a healthy weight as well as reduce the risk of stroke.
- Manage diabetes: High blood sugar levels can also damage blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke. Seniors with diabetes should work with their doctor to manage their condition.
Learn More About Stroke Awareness with the Help of Elite Choice
Stroke Awareness Month is a time to educate ourselves on the warning signs of stroke and how to prevent it. Caregivers and seniors can take steps to reduce the risk of stroke, including managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol levels, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and managing diabetes. By recognizing the signs of stroke and acting quickly, we can save lives and prevent long-term disability.
Elite Choice gives disabled individuals the power to retain control of their life and hire the caregiver they choose. Our Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) provides seniors and individuals with disabilities with the ability to select their own caregivers, including family members or friends, and pay them for their services. This program offers flexibility, independence, as well as peace of mind for both seniors and their caregivers. To learn more about Elite Choice and how our services can benefit you, please visit our website or contact us today.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.