June is usually a month of sun, gardening and planning for vacations. Not for your Heart Pharmacist, June is stroke awareness month. I think every month should be stroke awareness month. It is thought that over 12,000 deaths a year are attributed to strokes. What shocked me was that 10% of all stroke deaths occurred in people under 65 years old. This is why all months should be stroke awareness month. Let’s look at the signs of a stroke and what you should do.
How can you tell if you or someone you know might be having a stroke? There is a very handy word you learn about the signs of a stroke. It is called F.A.S.T.
F- Face. Is one side of the face drooping or does not look right
A- Arms. Often a person who is having a stroke can not raise both their arms at the same time
S. Speech. Is the person's speech slurred, jumbled or are they unable to speak?
T. Time. Speedy treatment is essential. Time to call 9-1-1 right away.
Don’t worry if you forget this word. It is written on the side of every BC ambulance.
There is often some question as to whether you should give an aspirin to someone you suspect is having a stroke. The current thought is that you should NOT give an aspirin. It is recommended to give aspirin for heart attacks but NOT for a stroke. This is because there are two types of strokes and it is hard to determine which type a person might be having. There is the ischemic stroke where a blood clot has obstructed blood flow in the brain. Then there is the hemorrhagic stroke. This later type of stroke is where a blood vessel has ruptured and blood is leaking out. Giving a blood thinning aspirin to someone with a hemorrhagic stroke might complicate treatment. So only give aspirin for heart attacks, chew one regular strength or two low dose aspirins. Just in case you forgot.
What is a T.I.A.? Some people call them mini-strokes. TIA stands for Transient Ischemic Attack. This is caused by a blood clot partially blocking or only temporarily an artery . Many people recover fully from these events so they might be tempted to think that they are no big deal. This is not a good idea. Think of a TIA as a “warning stroke”. Something is not going well with your blood circulation in the brain and should be brought to the attention of your Doctor promptly. A TIA could suggest that a full stroke might occur in the near future.
There are many ways to reduce your risk of having a stroke. The greatest benefit comes from stopping smoking, getting to a healthy weight, make healthy food choices and reducing your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Another way to prevent strokes, or heart disease, is to check your blood pressure regularly. Untreated high blood pressure is perhaps the greatest risk for your cardiovascular system. Check your blood pressure at any Heart Pharmacy. And don’t forget about F.A.S.T.