by Barbara Lewis-Clark
Yes, may be even you. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country. It is on the rise in Detroit. And, stroke is the leading cause of life-long disabilities. I knew nothing about stroke until my husband Henry suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at the age of 47 in 1997. Most people know nothing about how a stroke also called brain attack occurs, the risk factors, the warning signs or how to prevent a stroke. And more importantly, that stroke is a medical emergency. The good news is that many strokes are preventable.
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The common types of strokes are: ischemic and hemorrhagic. A blocked artery causes an ischemic stroke. And, a hemorrhagic stroke is caused when an artery wall bursts due to prolonged untreated high blood pressure.
Your knowledge of the risk factors and warning signs are important because they can save a life. And, reduce the chance of irreversible damages to the body. There are certain risk factors, directly or indirectly that may place you at a higher risk for stroke; such as: being a male, African-American, Hispanic-American, hypertension, high cholesterol, family history of stroke, prior stroke including transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or mini strokes, smoking cigarettes, obesity, high alcohol consumption, diabetes, sickle cell disease and using cocaine. Some of the above risk factors you have no control over; others you do.
Some people believe that stroke just happens. But, upon a closer examine, one may find the warning signs including the TIA (mini stroke) was overlooked. The warning signs of a stroke are: sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden severe headache with no known cause and weakness on the left or right side of the body. Stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 whether you have medical insurance or not. The decisions that you make within the first few minutes of a stroke can save your life or a loved one. The sooner you receive treatment to stop the stroke the less damage the stroke will have on your body.
You can reduce your risk of suffering a stroke with knowledge. Many strokes are preventable with life-style changes and medication. Life-style changes that your doctor may have already recommended includes: reducing your intake of salt, physical activities, losing a few pounds, reducing the fat in your diet, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, stop smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption will help you to live a longer and healthier life. I have not met a person who enjoy taking medicine. However, it is sometimes necessary to take medication to help you stay alive and healthy. Be a stroke survivor. Learn the risk factors and the warning signs. Call 911 immediately, stroke is a medical emergency. It is a matter of the quality of your life and death.
Henry’s stroke changed the course of his and my life forever. I urge you to learn about stroke. And, share the information with your families including your young people, friends and communities. In addition, I encourage stroke survivors and caregivers to talk about their stroke, their challenges and triumphs to give hope to others. Together, we can reduce the number of first strokes and deaths related to strokes that devastate our families. Let’s Talk Stroke!