May is National Stroke Awareness Month. While COVID-19 rightfully dominates the health news at the moment, we shouldn’t ignore this ever-present threat. According to the CDC, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. And while an individual’s risk increases with age, anyone at any age can experience a stroke. In fact, new data shows that COVID-19 could lead to an increased risk of stroke even among the very young. With this in mind, it’s essential to be able to spot stroke symptoms when you see them and act quickly to get help.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood flow is interrupted in one of three ways:
- Ischemic stroke: Here, a blot clot obstructs the flow of blood to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: In this instance, a blood vessel ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain.
- Trans ischemic attack (TIA): Also known as a “mini-stroke,” TIA occurs when a clot temporarily interrupts blood flow to the brain.
In these cases, when blood stops flowing to the brain, the tissue is deprived of oxygen and begins dying. As a result, people who experience stroke often suffer long-term effects, which might include cognitive or physical disability. This is also why it’s so critical to spot stroke symptoms early in order to get fast treatment. Because the sooner doctors can restore blood flow to the brain, the less severe the long term damage will be.
What are the Stroke Symptoms?
A stroke can occur quickly and without warning. Some groups are at a higher risk of dying from a stroke, including women, the elderly, and people of color. However, young and seemingly healthy people also die from this condition. So, no matter who you are or what group you associate with, it’s vital to recognize stroke symptoms when they occur. Fortunately, it’s easy if you keep the acronym FAST in mind. FAST stands for:
- FACE DROOPING: Is one side of the person’s face or numb? When the person smiles, is it uneven?
- ARM WEAKNESS: Is one of the person’s arms weaker than the other? If you ask them to raise both arms, does one drift downward?
- SPEECH: Is the person’s speech slurred, or are they suddenly hard to understand?
- TIME TO CALL 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms — even temporarily — seek emergency treatment right away.
If caught in time, doctors can administer a clot-busting drug called Alteplase IV r-tPA, which may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke. However, the effective treatment window is only between three and four hours from the onset of symptoms. In some cases, doctors can use a catheter to clear a blocked blood vessel, but that approach is often used in conjunction with tPA. In either instance, prompt treatment is critical in obtaining favorable outcomes.
Increased Awareness Saves Lives
Regardless of your age, it is essential to know the key stroke symptoms and be prepared to act at a moment’s notice. This increased level of awareness will serve to protect the health of our friends, family members, and neighbors. So when it comes to stroke, act FAST, and save lives.
More Stroke Resources from Generations Home Care
- Stroke Puts Seniors at Risk – Published 2/18/17
- Increase Your Stroke Awareness – Published 5/20/19
- Home Care Helps Stroke Patients Adjust to their New Normal – Published 5/27/19
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.