Give Me 5 offers a quick stroke check using 5 short words:
Walk - Is their balance off?
Talk - Is their speech slurred or face droopy?
Reach - Is one side weak or numb?
See - Is their vision all or partly lost?
Feel - Is their headache severe?
Sometimes called a "brain attack," a stroke occurs when a blood vessel leading to the brain either bursts or becomes clogged. The brain cells become starved for oxygen and, unless the blood supply is restored quickly, the cells begin to die. This can cause permanent and severe brain damage.
Despite the enormous strides made in stroke treatment and prevention every year, strokes still kill close to 160,000 people annually. The National Stroke Association (NSA) explains that the public is dangerously uninformed about this devastating condition. To combat this public unawareness, the NSA has launched its aggressive stroke education campaign. The campaign stresses that many strokes can be prevented by following the Three R’s:
- Reduce Risk
- Recognize Stroke Symptoms
- Respond by Calling 911
One-way to reduce stroke risk: always know your blood pressure. In addition, check your pulse at least twice a year to determine if you have an irregular heartbeat. Stop smoking and lose weight. Too much weight puts a strain on the circulatory system, so losing excess fat through diet and exercise helps reduce stroke risk. Resist fried foods. Keep your cholesterol levels in check. Adopt a diet that includes less sodium. A small glass of wine a day may help reduce stroke risk. Alcohol abuse may increase stroke risk. Lastly, always talk to your doctor about personal observations of your own health.
If you know the warning signs of a stroke, then it will be easier to prevent.
These warning signs include:
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.
- Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
- Sudden difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden falls, especially with any of the other signs.
Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness and nausea or vomiting. Sometimes the warning signs may last only a few moments and then disappear. These brief episodes, known as transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, are sometimes called “mini-strokes.” Since these episodes tend to be brief, many people ignore them. However, TIAs may help identify an underlying serious condition that isn’t going to go away without medical help.
When someone has had a stroke, every second counts! The blood supply to their brain has been cut off and brain cells are beginning to die. There are medications available that can dissolve blood clots, quickly allowing blood and oxygen to flow to the brain. Treatment is more effective when it comes quickly, and an early response can greatly affect the outcome of a stroke.