May is National Stroke Awareness Month By Rachel Clark, RN, BSN May became National Stroke Awareness Month by Presidential Proclamation 5975 on May 11, 1989, by President George H. W. Bush at the urging of the National Stroke Association. Ever since, the National Stroke Association has been extremely vigilant during the month of May to increase the awareness of the public in regard to strokes. The goal is to conquer this debilitating condition that is linked to other chronic conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. There are educational events going on across the country this month. Locally, the Limestone Council on Aging also did an article on Stroke Awareness. According to the National Stroke Association, the goals of this month are as follows: •Elevating stroke in the mindset of everyone in the U.S., so more people care about supporting stroke research and education. •Ensuring that everyone understands the emotional, physical and financial impacts that strokes have on our country. •Influencing others to improve their health by sharing personal stories of how stroke has already affected the lives of so many.
•Talking to legislators and thought leaders about how their decisions can positively affect survivors throughout their recovery.
•Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding •Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
•Providing a platform for more than 7 million survivors and their families to discuss their experiences and live with dignity. Stroke survivors possess the most influential and inspiring knowledge needed to make an impact on society. Their voices are so important.
•Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination •Sudden severe headache with no known cause
So, what is a stroke? As defined by the National Stroke AsVeteran actor and stroke survivor, Kirk Douglas sociation, a stroke “occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery area is damaged and how -High Cholesterol (a blood vessel that -Diabetes carries blood away from the much it is damaged. There are also different heart) or blood vessel (a tube -Atherosclerosis (hardening through which blood moves types of strokes, ischemic of arteries) through the body) breaks, and hemorrhagic. Ischemic interrupting blood flow to strokes are broken down into -Circulation issues an area of the brain.” When two categories called embo- -Tobacco Use/Smoking either of those two things lic (a blood clot from some- -Physical Inactivity happens, the surrounding where else in the body travels brain tissue dies and damage to the brain and blocks blood -Obesity occurs. Wherever brain cell flow), thrombotic (direct death occurs, those abilities blockage of an artery leading Incontrollable Risk Faccontrolled by the area af- to the brain). Hemorrhagic tors: fected are lost. This could strokes occur when blood include speech, movement, vessels break or “blow out,” -Age memory, and even basic life causing excessive bleeding -Gender function such as breathing to an area of the brain. There -Race and your heart beating. Af- are two types of hemorfects are determined by what rhagic strokes, subarachnoid -Family History (an aneurysm that bursts in -Previous Stroke a large area on or near the thin, delicate membrane lin- -Fibromuscular Dysplasia ing the brain allowing blood (underdeveloped arteries) to spill into the protective -Patent Foramen Ovale (hole fluid and contaminating it) in heart that failed to close in and intracerebral (bleed- childhood) ing occurring from a vessel Signs and Symptoms within the brain itself). of a Stroke: Controllable Risk Factors: •Sudden numbness or weak-High blood pressure ness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the -Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib)
There is also an acronym, FAST, that helps you remember how to identify signs and act on them accordingly: Face - ask the person to smile; does one side of the face droop? Arms - ask the person to raise both arms; does one drift downward? Speech - ask the person to repeat a simple phrase; is speech slurred or strange? Time - if any of the above signs are observed, call 9-1-1 immediately as time is key! If caught in time, healthcare professionals can intervene and give a clot-busting drug called TPA if diagnosis of the most common type of stroke occurs within the first 3 hours of onset of symptoms. Educate yourself and your loved ones on this very debilitating and deadly disease. It is preventable and treatable. Know your risk factors and discuss them with your healthcare professional today. Come up with a plan to modify those you can and be aware of those you can’t. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.
May 16 - June 5, 2014