Warning Signs and Prevention

I had another topic planned for this week's blog, but I decided to write about strokes and warning signs. My fellow intern had a stroke this week during our clinic shift at the Lombard campus clinic on Monday afternoon. She was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital and spent 2-3 days in the ICU unit and is now in a rehabilitation center. She is doing much better but the stroke affected the left side of her body.

Signs of Stroke

Even when stroke symptoms only last a few minutes, you should get immediate help. Time is of the essence. Call 911 or rush the person to your local emergency room if they experience any of the following 5 warning signs of stroke:

  1. Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking and understanding;
  2. Sudden numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg (usually on one side);
  3. Sudden blurred vision or trouble seeing with one or both eyes;
  4. Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination;
  5. Sudden severe or unusual headache with no known cause.

Image depicting stroke symptoms
Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.

Although these 5 warning signs of stroke are the most common, the latest research shows that signs of stroke for a woman can also include the following stroke symptoms:

  • Sudden pain in face, chest, arm or leg;
  • Fainting, seizure or an accidental fall;
  • Sudden feelings of tiredness or nausea;
  • Sudden pounding or racing heartbeat;
  • Sudden hiccups or shortness of breath.

One-third of all stroke victims die and many of the rest end up with major disabilities.

Prevention of Stroke

It's estimated that 80% of all strokes can be prevented according to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Those are really good odds. So it only makes good sense to structure your life for stroke prevention, especially if you have family history of strokes and hypertension.

  • Image of CT scan of headEat a healthy diet.
  • Monitor and reduce your blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure.
  • Prevent diabetes. Since diabetes and high blood sugar raise your chances of having a stroke, use glycemic index guidelines to help you manage blood sugar levels.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Manage your triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides raise your risk of stroke. Have yours checked and if they're high, follow a diet to lower triglycerides naturally.
  • Keep your cholesterol low. High cholesterol can increase your odds of having a stroke. If yours is higher than normal, it's important to lower cholesterol naturally.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight also raises your risk of strokes.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Lower your stress level.
  • Incorporate exercise into your life style--Tai Qi, Qi Gong, yoga, walking, etc.

I would like to dedicate this blog to my fellow intern and her family. We pray for her speedy recovery. Her body may be broken but her spirit is strong.

Thank you for your continued support of the AOM blog. Have a great week!

Statistics and stroke information cited from livestrong.com, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and American Stroke Association, and class notes.