It is a myth that strokes are only a risk for the elderly. Case in point, actor Luke Perry (star of Beverly Hills, 90210‘ and ‘Riverdale’ died from one at age 52! Stroke can happen at any age and apparently fame and fortune don’t protect you.
A stroke is when the brain is deprived of oxygen when either a clot travels to the brain and stops the blood flow (87% of the cases) or when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and blood floods the area. In either case, it is estimated that 1.9 million brain cells are at risk every minute the brain goes without oxygen. The area of the brain affected will determine what functions might be lost. For example, a block on the right side of the brain might make the left side of the body unresponsive or cause impulsive behavior and poor judgement. Another brain area would affect speech, vision or cause memory trouble.
Prevention is optimal and we will get to that. However, since fast action in case of a stroke can save the life of someone near you or at least lessen disability, I’d like to start with an alert to the warning signs. Getting to the emergency room FAST can make all the difference in a full recovery versus a life dealing with paralysis and disability. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of calling 911—NOT waiting and watching. And, it is probably better not to drive the person to the ER. The 911 emergency personnel will get there fast and can start treatment on the way!
SYMPTOMS. These are important clues that a stroke has occurred (from Stroke.org):
- Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
- Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech. Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- Time to Call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms and even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
You will notice that the first letters of the bullets above form the word: ”FAST”. Not only is that a simple tool to help remember what to check, it is also a reminder to act quickly. (Seconds count!) Everyone in your home and office should be familiar with these signs.
Sophisticated and effective treatments include IV’s of medications to dissolve clots and a procedure called a thrombectomy whereby the medical team feeds a device from the groin through an artery and removes the offending clot.
Keeping the circulatory system in general healthy helps prevent both kinds of stroke. For example, strong vessels won’t spring a leak and avoiding high blood pressure also improves the odds of having such an event. Buildups of plaque will avoid clots. Another cause of clots appears to be atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat.
Risk factors (the very type of things we talk about so frequently on the Healthy by Nature Show:
- High blood pressure (135/85 or higher)
- Excess weight around the waist (measuring more than 40” in men and 35” in women)
- Triglyceride level at 150 mg/dl or greater
- LDL cholesterol above 100
- HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dl for men and below 50 mg/dl for women
- High blood sugar
- Stress that is poorly managed
After a stroke: Stroke treatment is one area where modern conventional medicine shines. They really can work near miracles, especially if you get to them promptly. Then there is physical and occupational therapy to return diminished functions. I would certainly add the Brain Light Pro to the list of tools. It helps repair the circulation to the affected part of the brain.