What are Strokes?
Strokes occur when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced. When this happens, it prevents the brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. When the brain tissue doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, brain cells begin to die in a matter of minutes.
Jackie Wenstrom has a background as a Registered Nurse and specializes in long term care and acute rehabilitation. She talked to our residents at Woodstone Active Living about what strokes are, signs of strokes, what to do if someone is having a stroke, and how to prevent them. Her first point was “Don’t be Minnesota nice when someone is having a stroke”. Timing is everything when it comes to strokes which is why you need to act F.A.S.T.
“…during every minute of a stroke, over 1 million nerve cells die.”
Signs of Strokes:
F.A.S.T. is an acronym that has been used for 10-12 years in the medical field. This is a great outline to follow when determining if someone is having a stroke. Every stroke is different and the effects can look differently on everyone.
- Ask the person to smile
- Does one side of their face droop?
- Ask the person to raise both arms.
- Does one arm drift downward?
- Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
- If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important
- You need to get the patient to the hospital as soon as possible
What To Do…
Right away when you get into the hospital they will start a timer. After that, depending on your other medications, they will normally give you one baby aspirin. They will then bring the patient to get a CT scan of the head. This way the Radiologist can determine where the blot clot is located. If they don’t locate the clot right away, there will be more problems that will occur after the stroke has stopped. Once they find out where the clot is, they fix the part of the brain that isn’t functioning the way it should be.
How to prevent strokes:
- Keep moving, don’t sit for hours on end
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol
- Always keep your heart busy pumping
3 Main Types of Strokes
1.) Ischemic Stroke (Clots)
Ischemic stroke occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed. It accounts for about 87 percent of all strokes.
2.) Hemorrhagic Stroke
Hemorrhagic strokes make up about 13 percent of stroke cases. It’s caused by a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. The blood accumulates and compresses the surrounding brain tissue.
3.) TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. A TIA usually lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t cause permanent damage. “About 1 in 3 people who has a transient ischemic attack will eventually have a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the transient ischemic attack”.
- Strokes are the leading cause of serious long-term disability.
- Strokes reduce mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
- Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
- Friends usually save friends from a further stroke.
- Women have a higher risk of strokes.
- Since pregnant women are putting out more blood for the fetus, they have a higher risk of developing clots.
After you or a loved one has a stroke, it is crucial that you start rehab as soon as you are able to. If you are in an acute situation with an acute hospital requiring IVs, dressing, changes, etc., you need to have a three day qualifying stay. Medicare ruled 4-5 years ago that if you don’t sleep at the hospital for three nights, you may have to pay out of pocket for your stay and rehab.
“Stroke-related costs in the United States came to nearly $46 billion between 2014 and 2015. This total includes the cost of healthcare services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work”.
If you believe that either yourself or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, it’s very important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Again, time is vital during these circumstances and can determine the outcome of your stroke. Treating this early is important to reduce the risk of long-term complications. Make sure to discuss with a doctor to put together a prevention strategy.