Firstly, let us understand what a stroke is.
- A stroke can be the result of a blockage in an artery, which carries blood from the heart to the body.
- It can also be the result of a rupture in an artery, which interrupts blood flow to the brain.
In either case, brain cells become starved and brain damage occurs. Separate areas of your brain control distinct areas of your body, so the area of damage will show up as loss of functionality in the section of your body that this area controls. Take note of the signs and symptoms of the patient to help medical staff to identify the location and extent of the damage. Use the acronym FAST:
- F is for face: If the patient is conscious, as them for a smile, and check if one side of the face droops.
- A is for arms: Ask the patient to lift both arms and check if one side drifts downwards.
- S is for speech: Ask the patient to repeat a sentence and check for slurring of words.
- T is for time: If you observe any of the above, call for an ambulance immediately.
How else could you have identified the stroke?
- Sudden numbness down one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or loss of understanding
- Sudden blurred vision
- Sudden trouble with balance or muscle coordination
- Sudden severe headache without any known reason
Was there anything you could have suggested beforehand to prevent a stroke?
Yes, age is a significant contributor, and we cannot control that, but there are other risks that can be controlled:
- High blood pressure is a big contributor. An increase in the force with which your blood is pushed through your blood vessels can weaken them and produce an aneurism or bulge in an artery, which could rupture.
- Diabetes is caused when the pancreas does not generate enough insulin, which is designed to combine with glucose in the blood stream in order to feed the body’s cells. Too much sugar around the cells, where the sugar has not joined up with insulin, will hinder the normal functions of the cells.
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol has been shown in studies as increasing risk.
- Nicotine from smoking clogs lung walls, speeding up the process of clogging.
- Atrial fibrillation, where the upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly, can produce pools of blood in the heart, which can then form clots. This is treatable if it becomes a repeated problem.
- Atherosclerosis is a problem my father had. It is a progressive accumulation of fatty deposits and other cells, on artery walls. The clogging can produce the same result as a blockage.
- Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood stream, often caused by eating too much fatty foods.
- Obesity is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, so encouraging healthy eating and physical activity, such as walking, can reduce the risk of a stroke.
So if you are brave enough, give your parent this advice, that treating the above health conditions or managing unhealthy lifestyle risk factors could enable them to get around and enjoy life a whole lot longer!