If you think strokes only happen to elderly people, think again. Strokes can hit anyone at any age, but the older one gets, the more susceptible one becomes for having a stroke.
About 15-years ago, my daughter worked as a certified-nursing-assistant at a senior daycare center. Although most of the patients or clients were elderly, 60 and over, she also had several that were younger. She had one male patient who had a debilitating stroke around the age of 30. When I was in college, I worked as a night orderly in a nursing home and we had several patients, mostly female who were between 40 and 50 years of age.
Not the long ago on our local news, they featured a woman who, at the age of about 40, was recovering from a stroke. She was married and had a handful of kids. I remember thinking how tragic at this stage of her and her family’s life.
According to Stroke.org:
- Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
- A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
- Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.
- Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
- Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.
First of all, what is a stroke?
A heart attack is generally caused by the blockage of blood flow to an area of the heart, resulting in the heart muscle tissue dying for lack of oxygen. Likewise, a stroke is a ‘brain attack’ caused when the blood supply to an area of the brain is blocked and brain cells begin to die.
There are two main types of stroke – hemorrhagic and ischemic.
A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the hemorrhaging of blood vessels in the brain. In most cases, it’s associated with a ruptured aneurysm – a swelling of a blood vessel that weakens the vessel wall and then bursts open.
An ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot the cuts off the blood flow to part of the brain.
There is a third, generally less severe form of stroke known as a TIA or transient ischemic attack. They are defined as a temporary, generally less than 24 hours, where there is a blockage of blood flow due to a clot that in a short time releases and allows blood flow to resume.
The severity of a stroke depends a lot on the location and how soon treatment can be started. Knowing how to recognize a stroke is important for you and your family or those around you. Here are ten general symptoms of a stroke:
- Trouble seeing – sudden blurred or dimming vision.
- Loss of balance – having trouble walking or sitting without falling. Generally caused by one side of the body being affected by the stroke.
- Difficulty speaking – speech becomes slurred, words hard to recall.
- Weakness – A very common symptom when the arm and/or leg on one side of the body become weak and possible unable to move.
- Facial paralysis – not always, but one side of the face can become paralyzed, often accompanied by slight pain in the face, dizziness, difficulty speaking, drooling out of one side of the mouth, tearing of eye and inability to smile or frown.
- Pain – while most people don’t associate pain with a stroke, it can range from a dull ache to a constant or sudden sharp pain.
- Loss of understanding – a stroke victim sometimes is mentally confused and bewildered, unable to put a thought together.
- Severe headache – many illnesses can be accompanied by severe headaches, but coupled with many of the other symptoms, a severe headache can be a sign of a stroke.
- Loss of senses – could include vision, smell, hearing, tough and taste.
- Fatigue – by itself, fatigue may be a sign of many other things, including fevers or just staying up too late the night before. However, when fatigue is accompanied with many of the other symptoms, it’s nothing to just sleep on.
We hear all the time that high blood pressure and stress are some of the leading causes of strokes. That’s why so many doctors are concerned about their patients’ health as they want to take measures to help reduce the possibility of having a stroke.
Another key to reducing the risk of having a stroke or increasing the chance or recovery is you have a stroke, is watching your weight and regular exercise. Pamela Rist, of Harvard University just authored a study and reported:
“The new study involved more than 18,000 people with no history of stroke who were followed for an average of 12 years. During that time, nearly 1,400 of the participants suffered a stroke but survived.”
‘Three years after their stroke, those who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks — such as bathing on their own, the researchers found.”
“The fitter individuals were also 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise before their stroke, the findings showed.”
“‘We also found that a person’s body mass index was not a factor in predicting their level of disability after stroke,’ Rist said in a journal news release. Body mass index is an estimate of body fat based on weight and height.”
“Two experts in stroke care who reviewed the findings said the study highlights the importance of exercise.”
That’s one of the reasons my wife and I are buying a treadmill. We have found that our life has become more sedentary than it used to be. With the crazy weather where we live, it’s not always possible to get out and walk or jog, so we decided to invest in a good quality treadmill that has adjustable speed, incline and a shock absorbing system to take some of the impact off of our knees.
With the treadmill, we can take turns getting our cardio exercise while watching some of our favorite television programs – sewing and quilting for her, sports for me and many shows we both like. We have also invested in some exercise strength bands and inexpensive equipment that will help make it easier for us to do strength building exercises which is vital for bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
It’s important to do something to reduce the weight and fat and get some exercise, depending on your abilities or limitations.
Your article answered many questions I have had with not only what happened to my grandfather many years ago but also my father, as well. My grandfather passed away from an aneurysm, and my father from a stroke. Not only am I going to get up off the couch and start moving more, I am finally going to make a point to get on my elliptical. Thank you so very much!
Robert Andres says
This is an excellent and useful article. Having suffered a TIA several years ago, I can identify with the listed symptoms. After about $10K worth of tests at the hospital, they couldn’t even tell me whether the TIA was caused by a hemorrhage or a blockage. Now, I’m on daily aspirin – and the blood is thin.
Two weeks ago a friend of mine about 70 years old had a brain bleed while doing her morning exercises. Go figure.
Great article. Thank you.
FYI – Number 9 (above) contains a typo: I believe it should be touch vs. tough.
9. Loss of senses – could include vision, smell, hearing, tough and taste.
Lorraine E. Blazich says
It is unfortunate that the use of hyperbaric pressure chambers to increase the amount of oxygen given to stroke victims isn’t used more often. I’ve been reading about the incredible recoveries made by people who receive HBO after a stroke for decades.
Camille Gilliam says
My husband had a Hemorrhagic Stroke 9 1/2 yrs. ago. He has over-active adrenal glands [Hyper- aldosterone}. or Incredible Hulk Disease. There are no real drugs for this disease or for the pain. I have found one thing that helps settle him down and that is Magnolia Bark and I just read today that Holy Basil cuts back on the cortisol that your body produces. He has to be on a low salt diet, and I can guarantee companies and grocery stores don’t help.
Kenneth Manny says
Thanks good info I have been fighting an MPD-ET for 23+ years. 15 years ago my Platlets went way to high and have been on Hydrox an aspirin everyday since. I have had TIAS about 8 x’s since. Last Aug I had one at my desk and another expert said it was a seizer BS! I know my body better then anyone! Anyway he has me so messed up with his meds I’m fighting that and God willing will start our golden years with my lovely wife of 34 years soon. All these signs I’ve had and dropped 58 pounds since then. Keep me informed! Thanks! Sorry for being so long.