Stroke is a major cause of death in the United States, and senior citizens are especially prone to experiencing a stroke and some of the long-term effects that can result. African Americans tend to also be at higher risk for stroke.
Knowing the signs of stroke and what to do when one occurs is very important. Caregivers of senior citizens or other friends and family should know these signs so that they can act quickly to reduce the serious effects that can occur as a result of a stroke. Someone suffering a stroke should always get to a hospital within an hour after symptoms begin.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped by a blood clot, which is usually a side effect of damaged blood vessels. When the brain does not receive oxygen from blood flow, there is a rapid rate of cell death that occurs and can manifest into mental or physical disability depending on how long the stroke goes untreated.
Ischemic strokes involve clots that work as a "plug" in blood vessels leading to the brain while hemorrhagic strokes involve clots that cause blood vessels to literally burst and bleed into the brain.
People who are having a stroke can experience:
- Numbness or weakness in the face or leg, usually on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or difficulty producing and understanding speech
- Sudden inability to see in one or both of the eyes
- Sudden trouble walking or maintaining balance
- Sudden severe headache without any other known cause
Because we can not see that someone is having a stroke unless they are showing the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to know how to recognize this sudden onset of symptoms and act quickly by seeking immediate medical attention. If you suspect that you are someone you know is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Senior Citizens should take active steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Caregivers should encourage such activities to prevent disease. The following are suggestions will help prevent strokes.
Because strokes are due to complications with blood vessels, one way to prevent stroke is to keep high blood pressure under control because high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Avoid smoking.
- If you have diabetes, learn how to manage it efficiently.
- Maintain a healthy body weight with a healthy eating plan and safe amount of physical activity.