Showing posts with label stroke symptoms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stroke symptoms. Show all posts

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Know Stroke Symptoms and Causes - Save Lives and Prevent Disabilities

During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Gerald Ford began to show the signs of having a stroke on national television. While people around the world watched in horror, his face began to droop and he was obviously having difficulty.  He was 87 at the time.  However, even people who are much younger can unexpectedly suffer from a stroke.  In 2012, the ABC - Los Angeles weather forecaster Bri Winkler woke up feeling numb on the entire right side of her body.  She didn't know it at the time, but she was having a stroke.  She was only 24 years old.

Everyone, regardless of age, should know the signs, symptoms and causes of strokes.  This is especially true if you are over the age of 65, or have someone in that age group in your family.  Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability among seniors, and preventing strokes in this population is crucial for maintaining their health and independence. There are several risk factors for stroke that are more common in seniors, including hypertension, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. By understanding these risk factors and taking steps to manage them, seniors can reduce their risk of stroke and improve their overall health.

Risk Factors for Strokes

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 75% of strokes are caused by hypertension. Seniors are particularly at risk for hypertension, as the risk of developing this condition increases with age. To prevent hypertension and the risk of stroke, seniors should have their blood pressure checked regularly and take steps to manage it, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking medications as prescribed.  However, as the examples above show, everyone should monitor their blood pressure periodically and make sure they are staying within healthy guidelines according to their doctor. 

Diabetes is another risk factor for stroke in seniors. People with diabetes are more likely to develop hypertension and heart disease, which increases their risk of stroke. Additionally, diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke. To prevent diabetes and the risk of stroke, seniors should maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and get regular exercise. If they have diabetes, they should also closely manage their blood sugar levels and take medications as prescribed.

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is another major risk factor for stroke in seniors. AFib is a type of irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of blood clots forming in the heart. These clots can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. According to the American College of Cardiology, seniors with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without AFib. To prevent AFib and the risk of stroke, seniors should have regular check-ups with their healthcare provider, manage other risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, and take medications as prescribed.

How to Lower Your Stroke Risk

In addition to managing these risk factors, seniors can also take steps to prevent stroke by making lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking can all reduce the risk of stroke. According to the American Heart Association, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can reduce the risk of stroke. Additionally, getting regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Signs of a Stroke

Finally, seniors should be aware of the signs of a stroke and know what to do if they or someone they know is experiencing symptoms. The acronym FAST can help people remember the signs of a stroke:

F - Face drooping: Is one side of the face drooping or numb? 
A - Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? 
S - Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? 
T - Time to call 911: If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately. 

It is important to get treatment quickly.  If you do, there is a good chance that the effects of a stroke can be minimized and the person will be able to get back on their feet much more quickly.

Stroke is a serious health condition that can have a significant impact on seniors' lives, but by understanding the risk factors and taking steps to prevent stroke, seniors can improve their overall health and reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke. Managing hypertension, diabetes, and AFib, making lifestyle changes, and being aware of the signs of a stroke are all important steps in preventing stroke in seniors.

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Learn to Take It Easy

You may also find that you can help reduce your blood pressure and learn to relax if you occasionally decide to take it easy!  Take a walk in the outdoors.  Spend time looking at nature.  Breath deeply.

Read for entertainment.  Spend some time in the sun, although not so much that you increase your risk of skin cancer!

You may also find that it helps you to spend time near a large body of water ... the ocean, a lake, or fishing on a river.

In other word, focus on your serenity and peace of mind.  You can find simple items, such as jewelry shown here, to help you remember the importance of learning to take it easy by checking out my Etsy store at:

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Source:  Facts about aging from the June 2022 AARP Bulletin.

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References:American Heart Association. (2021). High Blood Pressure. Retrieved from

American College of Cardiology. (2021). Atrial Fibrillation. Retrieved from

American Heart Association. (2021). Stroke Prevention

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cut Your Stroke Risk Now!

Baby Boomers are starting to reach the age when they are at a higher risk for strokes.  In fact, having a stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and it is the number one cause of disabilities.  Anyone can have a stroke at almost any age.  However, once you reach the age of 55 your risk doubles ... and this year the last of the Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 50!  (Yes, nearly all the Baby Boomers are now considered senior citizens.)

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel leading to the brain either becomes blocked or it bursts.  When this happens, the brain cells begin to die.  Patients need to be treated quickly or they can die or become seriously disabled.

Symptoms of a Stroke

If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke, here is a quick way to check.  Ask the person to smile, speak or raise their hands above their head.  If their smile is uneven, their words or slurred, or they cannot raise both hands above their head, call an ambulance or rush them to the hospital immediately.

Other symptoms include trouble walking, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to them, paralysis or numbness in the face, leg or arm, trouble seeing in either one or both of your eyes, or a severe headache, often with dizziness or vomiting.

Treatment for Strokes

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, it is important that you get to the hospital quickly.  If you arrive in time, they will administer a clot-busting intravenous medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).  It is essential that this drug be given within three hours after the symptoms of a stroke first become visible.  When tPA is given quickly enough, one out of three patients will see major improvement and, in come cases, the symptoms are completely eliminated.

Unfortunately, only about 10% of patients receive tPA because they arrive to late for it to help, or because they are on blood thinners or they have had recent surgery.  In those cases, a device may be inserted into an artery in the groin and snaked up to the brain in order to remove a clot or stop the bleeding in the brain.

A stroke kills about 2 million brain cells a minute, so it is extremely important that action is taken quickly..

How to Prevent a Stroke

Once you understand the risks of a stroke, you can easily understand how important it is to do everything you can to protect yourself.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take that will dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing a stroke:

Keep your blood pressure under control.  Take medication, if necessary.

Keep your cholesterol levels low.  Use medication if you cannot lower it through food and exercise.

If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, manage your blood sugar levels carefully.

If you are overweight, lose as much of it as possible.  This will also make it easier to deal with your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Get exercise.  It will help with your weight.  In addition, physical inactivity is considered a risk factor for strokes.

Limit your consumption of alcohol.  No more than two modest sized alcoholic drinks a day for men, and no more than one for women.

DO NOT SMOKE.  There is a high correlation between smoking and your risk of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation ... if you have a heart rhythm disorder, work with your doctor to come up with a strategy to treat it.

More Risk Factors

Your risk of having a stroke doubles EVERY TEN YEARS after the age of 55.

African-Americans are at a higher risk

You have an increased risk if you have is a family history of strokes or if you have ever had a stroke or heart attack.


"Saddleback Adds Advanced Stroke Care,"  Laguna Woods Globe, Orange County Register, November 21, 2013.

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