Stroke, the Myths & Truths
Like most things in life…there is a surplus of information available to us via Internet, newspaper, magazines, TV and radio on just about any subject imaginable. And like most things in life… there are truths and myths. Unfortunately, much of the information available to us, including the understanding of medical facts, can be quite difficult to decipher. And the truths and myths regarding strokes are one of them!
The underlying causes of a stroke can be vast, but to understand the reality of how and why, needs to be understood. These causes can include, but not limited to, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor diet, lack of physical activity, high blood cholesterol, Carotid Artery Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Peripheral Artery Disease and Sickle Cell Disease.
What’s important to know is there are 2 types of strokes:
1) Ischemic – 90% of strokes in the U.S. fall under this classification –the blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is cut off due to a blockage or clot.
2.) Hemorrhagic– a weakened blood vessel ruptures in the brain.
Both of my strokes were caused by a Bacterial blood infection, that lodged in the valve of my heart. The infection caused my heart to pump out Emboli, which is something that travels through the bloodstream, lodges in a blood vessel and blocks it. Examples of emboli are a detached blood clot, a clump of bacteria, and foreign material such as air. This Emboli first caused a blockage, starving my brain of blood, causing a Ischemic Stroke. Then the Emboli made it to my brain, causing a blood vessel to rupture, and you guessed it, a Hemorrhagic Stroke, all in the span of 14 days.
Now lets decipher,
Myth From Truth:
MYTH 1: Strokes only occur in older adults. TRUTH: There is a growing population of those affected by strokes between the ages of 18 and 65.
MYTH 2: Strokes are an unusual occurrence. TRUTH: Surprisingly, strokes occur more often than you think. The statistics show that strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.
MYTH 3: Strokes victims cannot be treated. TRUTH: The good news is that if a stroke victim is treated within a certain amount of time (usually 4.5 hours), the damage can be reversed.
MYTH 4: Strokes cannot be prevented. TRUTH: 90% of strokes are due to vascular reasons. Living a healthy lifestyle, including, but not limited to, healthy diet and weight, can help to prevent the risk of suffering from a stroke.
MYTH 5: Strokes are not hereditary. TRUTH: Unfortunately, you can’t beat genetics! If you are predisposed to hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other high risk factors, your chances of suffering a stroke will certainly increase as compared to someone without this type of family history. It is important to check out your family history, and if Stroke has happened in your family before, maybe with some adjustments to your lifestyle, you may be able to avoid it. My grandfather suffered a Stroke at 69 years of age, simply because he stopped taking his Blood Pressure Medication. My grandfather lived to be 94 years of age, but the Stroke left him with huge deficits, that severely impacted his quality of life. I was placed on Blood Pressure Medication, in my 40's and kept taking them following my Stroke, so I take my Blood Pressure every morning at 8:45 am, and put the readings in my phone as a matter of reference. I have since adjusted my diet, and increased my exercise routine, and now, I no longer take BP Medication, and according to my doctor, I have the BP of a teenager, but I still take my BP every morning, in case something changes, just to be on the safe side.
MYTH 6: Smoking doesn’t affect the risk of someone suffering a stroke. TRUTH: Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots and the build up of plaque in the arteries—making for ripe conditions for a stroke to occur. Prior to my Strokes, I smoked for over 20 years. My Strokes were caused by a blood infection, but I am sure that the smoking did not help the situation. So if you smoke, simply STOP. It could severely affect your quality of life.
If you or a loved one suffer a stroke, there are several resources, to help in recovery and to overcome some of the daily challenges post stroke. Depending on where you live, try one of these links.
Canada: JGH Rehab
UK: Saebo UK
The common denominator is: With Saebo, there is NO PLATEAU IN SIGHT!
The Good News? 7 million people have survived a stroke! You can take the right steps NOW to prevent or reduce your risk of being a stroke victim. Prevention, is still the greatest cure!!