Stroke

By Steve Baldridge

We all know of someone who has suffered a stroke. Statistics show that nearly 800,000 people suffered a stroke in the United States in 2018. Many of those stroke victims suffered permanent disability to one degree or another, making stroke the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. Additionally, nearly 140,000 people die every year from stoke, making it the fifth leading cause of death. In Ashland County from 2015-2017, stroke accounted for 7% of all female and 5% of all male deaths.  Strokes can occur at any age, but three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65.

 A stroke is a brain attack. Somewhere in the blood vessels that feed our brains, blood flow is blocked and brain cells are starved of oxygen, sugar, and other factors they need to survive. Usually, the problem is a blood clot or buildup of plaque in the vessels. Women are slightly more prone to strokes than men, and African Americans have almost double the risk compared to Caucasians.

 When a stroke occurs, as many as two million brain cells can die every minute. The more time from stroke to treatment, the more brain cells are lost. This is why it is so important to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, call 911, and get emergency medical attention as FAST as possible.

 FAST is a simple reminder of the danger signs of a stroke.

  • F Ask them to smile. Do you notice that one side of the face droops?
  • A Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
  • S Ask them to repeat a simple phrase such as, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Is their speech slurred?
  • T If you see any of these symptoms – any of them – call 911 immediately! Do not drive them to the Emergency Department yourself. Call 911. EMS can start professional assessment and treatment before they leave the house with proper medications and equipment.

 There are ways to reduce the risk of having a stroke. Many conditions can damage blood vessels on the inside, leading to more of the plaques that can block blood flow in those vessels.

  • High blood pressure is a main contributor to stroke and is the most important risk factor. Is your blood pressure under control? The 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) identified 27% of women in Ashland County were diagnosed with high blood pressure and 31% of males.
  • High cholesterol and high blood sugar are also factors to an increased stroke risk. It’s important to control your cholesterol and your blood sugar to keep your brain healthy. In Ashland County, 24% of women have high blood cholesterol and 47% of men (CHNA).
  • Smoking constricts all the blood vessels. A constricted blood vessel is more likely to form clots. Smoking also damages the lining of all blood vessels, leading to more plaques. 19% of women and 10% of men in Ashland County are current smokers (CHNA).
  • Consuming too much alcohol contributes to risk. It’s recommended that men drink no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women limit their alcohol consumption to one per day. A drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a 1½ ounce shot of hard liquor.
  • Obesity also damages blood vessels. Often, losing even ten pounds can make a big difference. One important note on being overweight, people often equate exercise with weight control. Along with eating a healthy diet, exercise will almost certainly help you drop pounds. However, even if you do not lose a single ounce, exercise will make you healthier; it will help control your blood pressure and blood sugar. Even if you do not lose a single ounce, exercise will help you reduce your risk of heart attack – and stoke. In Ashland county, 62% of women and 74% of men are considered overweight or obese (CHNA).

 What is your stroke risk? Come find out on June 12, 2019 at University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center’s Stroke Screening Event. This event will take place at the UH Administrative Services Building, 663 East Main Street in Ashland, 4:00-6:00pm. There will be free Stroke Risk Assessments, along with BMI, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol screenings. Additionally, from 4 to 6, Music Therapist Angel Foss will be offering samples of Drums Alive! to introduce us to this great program this program.

Then at 6:00pm, University Hospital’s Neurologist, Dr. Aasef Shaikh, will discuss stroke risks, prevention, and answer questions. To learn more about, check out the calendar of events page at uhsamaritan.org. Register for this FREE event by calling 419-207-2563.

« Back to News