National Stroke Awareness Month has been observed each May since 1989 to increase public awareness about strokes. Unlike many other diseases, stroke is often treatable if caught early. And since one person in the U.S. suffers from a stroke every 40 seconds, awareness is critical to prevention and successful treatment.
At the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, we are all about educating people to prepare for and recover from manmade and natural disasters. So we take pride in posting about strokes to help educate our training system subscribers, associates and friends. And for our animal loving friends—LifeLineScreening.com reports that dogs can have strokes, too. In both humans and dogs, there are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blocked artery prevents blood from reaching the brain.
- Hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when blood vessels in the brain start to leak and blood pools around and in the brain.
Spearheading the annual official educational movement is the National Stroke Association, which sponsors campaigns such as the Faces of StrokeTM. Designing easily accessible tools and resources, the association raises awareness about the signs and symptoms strokes, which are the second leading cause of death in the world, responsible for 4.4 million (or 9 percent) of the total number of deaths each year. I wonder why they don’t have the Paws of Stroke for dogs?
Don’t make the crucial mistake of ignoring the information—thinking it won’t happen to you. Virtually everyone, including children, is potentially at risk, as strokes strike regardless of age, race or gender. Stroke can affect the senses, speech, behavior, thoughts, memory and emotions.
The five most common symptoms of stroke are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg.
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Signs of a stroke are always sudden. If symptoms come on suddenly but then quickly dissipate, the stroke might actually be classified as a “mini-stroke,” or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). TIAs do not cause permanent damage but can be a warning sign that a full stroke may be on the horizon.
The chances of having a stroke increase given certain risk factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the most common risk factors:
- High blood pressure—the risk of stroke begins to increase at blood pressure readings higher than 120/80
- Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- High cholesterol—a total cholesterol level above 200
- Being overweight or obese (Even dogs can be obese. Believe me—I’ve seen some hefty ones.)
- Physical inactivity (I’m all for upping the ante on this one. I’m always up for a run!)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm
- Use of some birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen
- Heavy or binge drinking
- Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
- Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or TIA
- Being age 55 or older
- Race — African-Americans are more likely to have strokes than people of other races
- Gender — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Women are usually older when they experience strokes. But they are more likely to die of strokes than men.
The good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. The CDC has come up with an easy way to remember how to guard against the likelihood of stroke—remembering your ABCs:
Appropriate Aspirin therapy
Blood pressure control
Smoking cessation: Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Other helpful stroke-prevention habits include:
- Exercise regularly. (Again…walk anyone?)
- Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight. (I guess that means I should cut back on the bacon.)
- Prevent or control diabetes.
- Limit alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women).
If you or someone you are with appears to be experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of a stroke, do not delay. Call 911 right away! Minutes matter. Getting treatment as soon as possible after a stroke can help prevent permanent brain damage.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!