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Stroke Awareness: What You Need to Know

May 23, 2023

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and while we’ve all likely heard of them, you might be wondering – what exactly is a stroke? Simply put, a stroke is what happens when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This causes damage to the brain, which can then cause permanent disability or even death.

According to the CDC, 795,000 Americans—or one every 40 seconds—will experience a stroke each year. Early recognition and intervention are extremely important in producing the best recovery. Knowing the risk factors and ways to prevent strokes could save a life, including your own.

Know the Risk Factors

Several factors increase the risk of stroke:

  • Age (risk increases over age 65, though strokes can affect people of all ages)
  • Obesity
  • A diet high in sodium and low in fiber
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Smoking
  • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes

Know the Symptoms

Know the following symptoms of stroke, seen in both men and women:

  • Numbness or weakness in face, arm, or legs—especially on one side
  • Confusion, including trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing from one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking or problems with balance or dizziness
  • Headache, especially if severe with sudden onset

Know What to Do

Time is critical when it comes to detecting stroke. Every minute counts from the first moment symptoms appear, as some treatment options for stroke are only available within the first 3 hours of symptom onset.

The acronym F.A.S.T. is a helpful way to remember what to do if you think you or someone you know might be having a stroke:

Face: ask the person to smile. Is there drooping on one side of the face?

Arms: have the person raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: ask the person to repeat a short phrase. Do their words sound slurred?

Time: note the time symptoms start; call 911 at once if any of these symptoms are present, even if they go away. Get the individual to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Know How to Prevent

Strokes are serious. The good news is that many of them are preventable. Incorporating the following habits into your lifestyle can help:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a diet of limited processed foods
  • Getting regular exercise, such as walking
  • Refraining from smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
  • Tracking blood sugar levels diligently if you are diabetic

If you or someone you know has experienced a stroke and you’re exploring your options for post-acute care following a hospital stay, The Hickman may be just the place you need. Our in-house therapy team, Bayada, is equipped to assist you with your physical and occupational rehabilitation needs while you enjoy all the amenities of our beautiful, historic campus.

The Hickman is a senior living community located in the heart of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Guided by Quaker principles and traditions that value all life and welcome diversity, The Hickman offers individualized care allowing older adults the opportunity to enjoy a productive life and to explore the richness of all of life’s possibilities.

Jennifer Singley, MGS
Jsingley@thehickman.org