WATCHING FOR THE SIGNS
KESSLER INSTITUTE OFFERS TIPS ON STROKE PREVENTION
Saddle Brook, NJ - Stroke is the leading cause of disability – and the third leading cause of death – among adults in the United States. Once thought of as a disease that only affected older individuals, increasing numbers of younger Americans are experiencing strokes due in part to lifestyle issues, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.
"A stroke can occur to anyone at any time, which is why it is critical to know the warning signs and seek immediate medical attention," said Uri Adler, M.D., Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Statistics indicate that someone in this country has a stroke every 45 seconds, but we also know that the sooner treatment is received the better the chance of survival, rehabilitation and recovery. The signs or symptoms of a stroke are generally sudden and may occur individually or in combination. They include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others
- Sudden difficulty seeing usually in both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking or dizziness; loss of coordination or balance
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
What's most important, however, is to be aware that time is critical -- and seeking emergency medical attention is key.
"Advances in emergency treatment, including the administration of 'clot-busting' drugs, such as TPA, and various devices to clear blocked arteries or stop bleeding have helped to mitigate some of the disabling effects of a stroke in many patients," explained Dr. Adler.
Among the challenges stroke survivors may face are problems with function, mobility, speech, swallowing and cognition, as well as emotional adjustments. "New technologies and therapeutic interventions are continuing to help in the rehabilitation process," explained Adler. "Traditional treatments, combined with robotic devices, bodyweight supported treatment training, electrical stimulation and constraint induced therapy among others, can help patients regain strength, restore function and resume their lives."
According to the National Stroke Association, there is a wide range of factors that contribute to the risk of having a stroke, including age, gender, race and family history. In addition, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can be controlled to help minimize the risk of stroke.
To help individuals take control of their stroke risks, Kessler Institute offers the following tips:
- Watch your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and one of the most controllable risk factors. If your pressure is elevated, work with your doctor to keep in under control.
- Take control of your cholesterol, through diet, exercise and medications as prescribed by your physician.
- If you have diabetes, seek appropriate medical attention and nutritional guidance to keep it under control.
- If you smoke, stop.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Exercise. Whether you take a brisk walk or work out at the gym, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
- Eat a heart healthy, low-sodium and low-fat or fat-free diet. Include five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, which has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke.
- Have your doctor check for evidence of arterial diseases, including carotid artery stenosis and peripheral artery disease, which can contribute to stroke risk.
"With increased awareness of stroke symptoms and a greater understanding of the many factors that contribute to this disease, individuals can take better control of their health," said Adler.