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Stroke Prevention

My story about stroke and stroke prevention.

Prior to having my stroke(at 54 years old), I thought of myself as somewhat like superman.  I felt good, that is why I stopped taking my maintenance medicines which is a no-no in stroke prevention.  I also had a previous heart attack(at 46 years old).  But in both cases, I was lucky enough to get medical attention in the nick of time.

Text message with my cardiologist while experience a strokeA week or so before my stroke, I had this nagging headache that was around my left nape.  I ignored this thinking that it must be the weather because it was mainly cloudy skies and looked like rain.

I was currently doing my thing in the bathroom and surfing and messaging on my smartphone when I noticed my right arm went limp.  Since I was sort of ambidextrous, I continued surfing using my left hand and dismissed my right arm’s condition. Thinking maybe it was tired.   I  was able to send my Cardiologist a message asking him what I should do.

After a few minutes, I was almost done with my business.  I was about to reach the bathroom dipper (“Tabo” in Tagalog) with my right, I couldn’t reach it. The dipper was just an arm’s length away and in a pail of water under the faucet.  I tried reaching with my left arm, which was difficult to do. Until I sort of fell (slowly) to the bathroom floor.

At this point critical thinking was of the essence.

It was at this point that I called out to the wifey.  I know she did not understand me because I heard myself speaking with a slur. She tried to pull me up but since she had a slipped disk, she did not force it. Not knowing what was happening she left me where I was, and called my sister and told my sister I was having a stroke. They decided to take me to the hospital ASAP.

I waited in that position hoping I would regain control of my right side.  And sure enough, after 5 minutes, I felt my right side respond.  I cleaned myself up, took a bath and dressed up.  We waited for my sister in front of the building we live in. And was still able to comfortably sit me down in the car. But on the way to the hospital, the “stroke” it seems kept going on and off. I would be able to speak in 1 minute and then I would slur in the next.

When we reached the hospital’s emergency room, still the same on and off. It was when the doctor finally injected something into my IV, that I felt normal again. As I was being checked in to the room for observation, I was already standing and walking.

My Advice to you.

When you feel you are having a stroke, these are my advice before and during the stroke

  1. Beforehand try teaching your left hand to use your smartphone, it can be handy when you have a stroke and you need to contact someone. Whether to call or send a text message, this increases your chance of getting medical attention within 3 hours.
  2. Talk to your better half or the person always near you agree to give him or her a one-syllable name like “Hon” or whatever is comfortable to both of you. This way, if you do not have access to a smartphone you can easily call that person with the least effort when you are semi disabled.
  3. Have your better half or the person always with you know who to call and at what number.
  4. Always have a member of the family staying near or working near you and with a vehicle.
  5. Lastly, do not stop taking your maintenance medicines.

What is “stroke”?

Stroke or “brain attack” occurs when blood circulation to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced. This prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain tissue, resulting in the death of brain cells (neurons). A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, which is crucial to reduce brain damage and other complications.

image of a strokeStroke has two main causes: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). In some cases, a person may only develop a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which does not cause lasting symptoms but is dangerous nevertheless. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death among Filipinos, according to the Department of Health (DOH). 1

Strokes, when detected should be treated within 3 hours otherwise any damage after a stroke may be permanent.

For high-risk types, it is always better to go for stroke prevention.  While we can never really tell what factors in anyone’s life may contribute to a stroke, it is always better to not engage in activities that may promote conditions that would lead to stroke.

The following are 10 tips for stroke prevention2.

  1. Control high blood pressure (hypertension). Know your numbers and keep them low.
  2. Quit tobacco. Smoking raises the risk of stroke.
  3. Control of diabetes. You can manage diabetes with diet, exercise, weight control and medication.
  4. Manage a healthy weight. Being overweight contributes to other stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Weight loss of as little as 10 pounds may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
  5. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A diet containing five or more daily servings of fruits or vegetables may help in stroke prevention.
  6. Exercise. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress.
  7. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Heavy alcohol consumption increases your risk of high blood pressure, ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes.
  8. Treat obstructive sleep apnea, if present. Your health care provider may recommend an overnight oxygen assessment to screen for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If obstructive sleep apnea is detected, it may be treated by giving you oxygen at night or having you wear a small device in your mouth.
  9. Avoid illicit drugs. Certain street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are established risk factors for a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.
  10. Manage other medical conditions. If you have any of these conditions, seek treatment to help with prevention stroke: high cholesterol, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart disease or sickle cell disease.

Source : 1, 2

Updated : 20200414

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