May is National Stroke Month

Almost six years ago I was going to pick up my aunt on a Sunday afternoon to do some chores. When I arrived, something felt wrong.

I just talked to her about 15 minutes before letting her know I was going, but she didn’t come out when I sent her a message to let me know that I was on her porch with three young children in tow.

I waited a bit, thinking she was in the shower. This time I called her. Again no answer. At this point, out of growing concern, I decided to get out of the car to sort it out, and looked out the window as I walked to the front door.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. My aunt, who was about 60, was lying on the ground in the middle of her living room and seemed motionless. I immediately called the 911 service when I quickly made my way inside. They told me how best to support her before the arrival of the medics. When I approached, her eyes were open and she was trying to tear her head off the floor. She lost the full functioning of the rest of her body. It was determined that she had a stroke.

Less than a year before that she had moved to the Oil Valley to be closer to family and she was having fun. I enjoyed having fun with her easily, but that day in 2016 the fun stopped. I will never be able to have a two-way conversation with my aunt again because she never returned to the talk and the rest of the time was spent in the hospital rooms until she died of other health complications in 2017.

This month is National Stroke Awareness Month, and according to the PACE National Association, the goals of this year’s campaign are to help reduce the risk of stroke and get people behind the scenes of what happens when someone suffers a stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are many ways to participate in this month of information that surrounds the leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke is also a major cause of serious disability for adults.

Some of the recommendations offered by prevention centers such as steps to stop a stroke are a challenge challenge that aims to promote regular physical activity that can reduce the risk of stroke.

There are other ways to take action and commit to making changes to improve your risk of stroke. These include a diet low in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol; if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation; and cessation of tobacco use.

Overall, choosing a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of stroke just as unhealthy choices can increase it. Ideal to discuss any lifestyle changes with your healthcare team.

Timely action can make a difference when it comes to effective treatment, because, according to the CDC, the best treatments for stroke are only available if the stroke is recognized within three hours of the first symptoms. If a patient with a stroke does not arrive at the hospital on time, it can limit the possibilities of effective treatment.

Signs of stroke that should be noticed for both men and women, according to the American Stroke Association, include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, or difficulty understanding speech; sudden vision problems in one or both eyes; sudden gait problems, dizziness, loss of balance or incoordination; and a sudden severe headache for no known reason.

If you or anyone experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. It is important to note the time when the first symptoms appeared. If you experience symptoms, the CDC recommends not driving yourself to the hospital and instead allow someone to take you or call 911 to call an ambulance so they can begin life-saving measures along the way.

If you share these helpful tips with friends and family during National Stroke Month, there’s a chance you’ll help save a life.

For more information

PACE National Association:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

American Stroke Association: www.cdc.gov

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