Honoring Stroke Awareness
During May, we recognize Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are experienced by about 800,000 people each year and is the number one cause of paralysis in the U.S. Additionally, stroke is included in the top 10 leading causes of death among children per year. There are certain common risk factors associated with a stroke including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. Damage to the spinal cord is the second leading cause of paralysis. Those living with a spinal cord injury may develop conditions such as Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD), which can also lead to a stroke. It is important to know that strokes can be prevented and treated, although early action and proper treatment is crucial.
What is a stroke and what are the symptoms?
A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is reduced, which in turn reduces oxygen and nutrients in the brain tissue, causing brain cells to die. There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes happen approximately 80% the time and are caused by blocked arteries to the brain. These can be less severe, resulting in a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack (TIA)) that only involves a temporary period of symptoms. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. Although both types may be deadly, hemorrhagic strokes are more likely to be fatal.
Paying attention to when signs and symptoms begin can affect treatment options. Symptoms include trouble speaking or understanding dialogue, paralysis or numbness, trouble seeing out of both or one eye, headache, and difficulty walking. If you notice any signs that a stroke may have occurred, use the acronym “FAST”:
Face. Ask the person to smile and see if their face shows signs of drooping on one or both sides.
Arms. Ask the person to lift both arms in the air. Watch to see if one arm starts drifting downward or is unable to move at all.
Speech. Ask the person to recite a basic phrase. Watch out for slurred or abnormal speech.
Time. If any of the signs are acknowledged, act fast and call 911.
What can you do to stay aware?
If you witness someone showing signs of a stroke, seek help immediately. Time is of the essence when it comes to prevention and treatment. The sooner treatment is attained, long-term effects may be minimized. Thankfully, medical advances in the last decade have made it possible for survival rates to increase. With that being said, it is still crucial to be knowledgeable about what procedures to take in the case of someone experiencing a stroke. National Stroke Awareness Month has increased overall knowledge of the “FAST” acronym from 24 to 43 percent since 2013. Let us keep the efforts alive by embracing what the month of May represents in the healthcare field.
In the case that you or someone you know has experienced a stroke and have questions about your care, the attorneys at Bounds Law Group would be happy to speak with you. Call 877.644.5122 for a free, no obligation consultation.