Happy New Year Fam.
I trust the year has started well and you are all set to impact your world this year and decade!
And now, our question for today which is the second part of a question I addressed last week, I believe.
Q: I have pains from my left shoulder to fingers most time and slurp (I assume this means drool) morning saliva. I am 65 years. Please can you give tips of stroke and signs?
A: Stroke as the name implies refers to an incident that happens suddenly…without warning. It usually occurs when the brain is deprived of some of its blood supply and consequently oxygen supply. This can happen when there is a blood clot in a vessel in the brain or due to a burst blood vessel leaking blood onto the substance of the brain or around the brain. This blood leakage can lead to undesired pressure on the brain.
Oftentimes, people refer to a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), as a partial stroke. This condition occurs when a blood vessel is partially blocked. This would usually be resolved within 15 minutes and is a sign that a major event (a stroke, proper) may not be far off. This is a warning that should be taken seriously.
It is important to know the signs of a stroke because if action is taken immediately, it can prevent permanent damage from being done. If the brain is deprived of its blood supply for about 4 minutes, irreversible changes begin to occur in the brain. If this deprivation continues beyond this time, permanent changes would have occurred that may affect different facets of the individual’s functions.
The signs of stroke to look out for are known by the acronym FAST.
• F stands for drooping of a side of the face. Ask the patient to smile and you will observe that the smile looks lopsided.
• A stands for arms – weakness of one side of the body. Ask patient to lift both arms and it will be seen that one side is being ‘dragged’ or lagging. Symptoms like yours located on one side of the body are therefore suspicious. I suggest you get a doctor to check you out properly.
• S stands for speech difficulty like slurring. Patient cannot enunciate words properly again
• T stands for time. Once these symptoms are noticed, it’s time to call for help. In climes where there are emergency numbers like 911 or 999, please call these. Otherwise, efforts should be made to take the person involved to the hospital immediately.
Patients may also complain of sudden inability to move legs, feel confused, have blurred vision etc. Symptoms like yours located on one side of the body are also suspicious. I suggest you get a doctor to check you out properly.
There are risk factors for stroke and they include:
• Age: The older you are the more prone to stroke. People from age 55 years are more likely to have a stroke, though this can also happen in children eg those born with heart defects and those with Sickle Cell Anaemia etc
• Race: Africans and Asians are more at risk
• Sex: Females are more at risk…as if we don’t have enough problems
• Family history of stroke: The presence of this increases risk
• Previous history of a stroke.
Other risk factors:
• Diabetes Mellitus
• Sedentary lifestyles
• Not eating healthy
• Drinking Alcohol
The rate at which one recovers from stroke and indeed the degree of symptoms experienced, depends on the area of the brain affected, how serious the damage to the brain is etc and so recovery will be different for different people.
Patience is key. Speech therapists may be needed to help the person re-learn the art of speaking. Physiotherapists will help improve motion on the affected side and indeed, mobility. Other therapists may help with eating…if swallowing is a problem, relearning the art of reading and reasoning etc
Usually, people who visit find it difficult to understand their speech during recovery and this can put even more pressure on the patients. Speak slowly and listen carefully so you can understand what they are saying.
Generally eating healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables, cutting out the white carbs (pastries etc), exercising (at least 150 minutes weekly), ensuring you are not overweight and quitting smoking help with reducing bad cholesterol and also preventing strokes.
The person recovering from a stroke may need to walk with a stick as s/he re-learns the art of walking. Recovery may be long and tedious but s/he’s got to keep at it.
I hope this is helpful
Have a good night, people 😀