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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Know the Signs

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. by J. Pettenger

Maybe you feel some numbness in your arm. Maybe you’re having trouble putting words together. Or maybe you’re suddenly experiencing a loss of balance. But the symptoms aren’t getting worse, so there’s no reason to go to the doctor, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. You could be having a stroke, and the faster you get to the hospital, the better.

A stroke occurs when blood flow is shut off to part of the brain long enough to cause brain cells to die. An astounding two million brain cells die every single minute when part of your brain is not receiving oxygen. It is imperative to call 911 immediately. Treatments are available to potentially remove the cause and reverse the symptoms.

A stroke strikes about 795,000 people each year and is the leading cause of adult disability. Fast treatment for stroke can save lives or prevent long-term disability, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs. When looking at stroke symptoms, the word “sudden” is the key:

  1. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

  2. Sudden onset of numbness, tingling, or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

  3. Sudden blurred vision, seeing double, or not seeing in one eye

  4. Sudden trouble walking, loss of coordination, dizziness

  5. Sudden onset of severe headache with no known cause

Women may also report some unique stroke symptoms that include sudden hiccups, nausea, chest pain, or shortness of breath.

Too often, people with signs of a stroke wait, hoping they’ll get better on their own. Even if you’re not having a major stroke, you could be experiencing a “mini-stroke” or TIA (transient ischemic attack). Forty percent of people who have TIAs go on to have an actual stroke, usually occurring within the next two days. TIAs shut off blood flow long enough to cause symptoms, but not long enough to cause major damage. However, they are a warning sign that something is going on, and it is essential to go to the hospital immediately and get it checked out.

You’re never too young to have a stroke, and you’re never too old to try to prevent one. There are many controllable risk factors, including: high blood pressure (which is the number one stroke risk factor), high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and smoking.

Proper diet and exercise are essential to maintaining a healthy body and preventing serious illnesses like a stroke. When it comes to eating, portion control is key. More often than not, the average American eats about two to three times more than the recommended daily food allowance.

Here are a few tips to help you eat less. When dining at restaurants, ask for a doggie bag to be brought as soon as your meal is served. Divide your meal, eating half and taking the other half home to eat the next day. When eating at home, you can “trick” your brain into thinking you’re eating more by using a smaller dinner plate. And when you’re pouring your breakfast cereal into a bowl, before you put in the milk, measure the cereal to see how many servings you’re actually eating.

Having a healthy lifestyle and keeping your controllable risk factors as low as possible allows you to take control of your life while you have the choice, instead of having an incident happen and your body makes the choice for you.


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