According to Caregiver.com, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The best defense against a stroke is to know the warning signs. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies the brain with oxygen-filled blood becomes blocked or bursts. The part of the brain fed by the blocked blood vessel is damaged and will not work. The body functions controlled by that part of the brain also will not work. Transient ischemic attacks, or TIA's, are mini-strokes - a sort of a warning of the potential for a more serious stroke. The signs for TIA's and strokes are the same, but TIA's generally only last a few minutes.
Here are some warning signs that should NOT be ignored:
Numbness on one side of the face or body
Sudden weakness in the arm or leg
Confusion or trouble speaking
Loss of balance or dizziness
A sudden painful headache
Recognizing these symptoms and acting quickly could save someone's life.
The good news is strokes are preventable. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key. This means reducing blood pressure, preventing heart disease, and not smoking, or quitting smoking as soon as possible. High blood pressure can be reduced by losing weight; monitoring salt and fat intake; exercising regularly; limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks a day; and taking medications the way they are prescribed by your doctor. Lowering blood pressure can also prevent heart disease. If you are a smoker, there are a number of products available to help you quit. Your physician may be able to recommend one that will work best for you.
Keep these tips in mind - your life and your loved one's life may depend on it!
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.