women 4 hope

Dedicated to addressing women’s issues.

Stroke: Three Signs You Need To Know That Could Save Your Life (with youtube PSA videos)

Posted by Catherine Morgan on August 10, 2007

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Three Signs You Need To Know That Could Save Your Life — by Catherine Morgan (and cross-posted at BlogHer.org)

I received an email from a fellow BlogHer Nina Burokas yesterday, she suggested that I consider a post on stroke, and the three simple signs that we all should be aware of. Noticing one or more of these signs, and getting someone appropriate medical attention, could be the difference between recovery and death. I agree with Nina that this is very important information, and the more that it is blogged about, the more people that might be saved from understanding these signs of a stroke.

And, to any other BlogHers reading…I am open to any and all ideas for health and wellness posts, in fact I welcome them. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to research these subjects and write about them…However, “bloggers block” sometimes strikes and I need a little nudge in the “idea department”. So please…SEND ME ALL YOUR IDEAS FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS POSTS…(you can send some to Denise and Amanda too…but I think my “bloggers-block” is more serious than theirs, therefore I need many more ideas). Thanks.

Now about this topic. Stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds, and nearly 168,000 die annually. Stroke is also a leading cause of severe, long-term disability as it can cause paralysis, vision problems, memory loss and speech problems.

Despite these staggering statistics, only 2% of American adults name stroke as the disease or health condition concerning them most, and 50% of adults do not believe they are even at risk for stroke.

A simple awareness of the early signs that a person is having a stroke, can lead to the patient getting medical attention within the first three hours of the stroke, and being successfully treated. See this (33 sec.) PSA…

Here is a link to an interactive graphic from MSNBC about the causes of stroke. Let’s take some time to learn the three most important signs that can help you recognize if you or someone you know is having a stroke. It’s been referred to as S-T-R…

S = Smile. Ask the person you suspect as being in trouble to smile. If their smile is uneven, crooked, or they are just having trouble trying to smile, this could be an important sign that they need to seek medical attention.

T = Talk. If you are talking to someone that can normally speak coherently and they begin to slur or have trouble with their speech, this is another important sign to seek immediate medical attention.

R = Raise both arms. Ask a person you suspect could be having a stroke to raise both their arms. If they can not, or have trouble raising just one arm, this is another important sign to seek medical attention.

*Just for the record, and I want this to be very clear – When I say “seek immediate medical attention”, I mean call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital immediately! I do not mean, call your doctor. This is no time to wait for a doctors appointment, get to a hospital immediately.

The reason these signs happen, is because a stroke is attacking one side of the brain or the other. If a person has a stroke on the left side of their brain, their right side will be affected. If a person has a stroke on the right side of their brain, the left side will be affected. So, noticing a person having trouble with one side of their body, or droopiness to one side of their body is a very important early warning sign. The onset of these symptoms are not only ways to recognize the stroke, they are clear signs of the permanent affects this person will have if they do not get immediate help (and they are lucky enough to survive). As you saw in the above video, three hours is the time this person has to get medical treatment before their symptoms become pertinent (or kills them).

This is a (one minute) PSA from a man who waited six hours before seeking medical attention for the symptoms he was having, three hours too late to make a complete recovery.

Here is an article that BlogHer Kristin Park wrote about stroke and the symptoms to watch for, you can see more from Kristin who writes about her experiences with Postpartum Depression at PPD Survivor.

When asked what the major killer of women is, many would think of breast cancer. Interestingly, breast cancer is actually #9 on the list of the top ten diseases that kill women each year. At the very top is heart disease and at #3 is stroke.

Tragically, stroke doesn’t receive the attention it should. We often hear about breast cancer fundraisers happening in our communities around the country, from fun runs to galas. And yet twice as many women die from stroke than from breast cancer each year. In fact, it’s so common that four out of five American families are touched by stroke. According to the National Stroke Association, one half of all African-American women will die from stroke or heart disease.

The good news is that 80% of all strokes are preventable. Several times I’ve seen an e-mail floating around cyberspace in an attempt to raise awareness of how to prevent strokes. It states that anyone can recognize stroke symptoms by thinking F.A.S.T. This is an acronym for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time; key words to remind you to do the following.

  1. Ask the person to smile and notice if the side of his/her face is drooping.
  2. Ask the person to raise both arms and notice if one arm drifts downward.
  3. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and listen to see if the speech is slurred.
  4. If any of these signs are present, call 911.

For more information on stroke and stroke prevention, call 1-800-STROKES or visit www.stroke.org.

At WomensHealth.gov there is an article about the increased risk of women having a stroke in mid-life.

WEDNESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) — Twice as many American women than men are suffering strokes in middle age, a new study shows.

Just yesterday Reuters had an article titled “Migraines raise women’s stroke risk

DALLAS (Reuters) – Recent migraine headaches with visual symptoms often known as “aura” dramatically raise a woman’s risk of stroke, researchers reported on Thursday in a study that adds to a growing body of evidence linking the two.

This PSA talks about the fact that an African American is twice as likely to have a stroke as a white American. I didn’t know that.

Here is another (30 sec.) PSA imploring people to take action at the first sign of a stroke…

Also see these other BlogHer blogs:

A Hearty Life

Living With Heart Disease

Pulse of the Heart

Women’s Health News

If you have had an experience with recognizing the signs of a stroke, please share your story in comments. Thanks.

ALSO SEE: Women and Heart Disease — Knowing the facts could save your life.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at Women 4 Hope and Informed Voters

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12 Responses to “Stroke: Three Signs You Need To Know That Could Save Your Life (with youtube PSA videos)”

  1. Catherine, I have not been on your site regularly in some time. I am amazed at your generous nature, the vast amount of work you do and then post here for all us to share and learn and become empowered. Thank you.

  2. Thank YOU…that is very kind of you to say.

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  5. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the United States. Although many women believe that they’re more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, their risk of CVD is actually significantly greater. Cardiothoracic surgery also involves the treatment of the heart, (cardiovascular disease), and lungs (lung disease). Heart disease symptoms may not always be evident, but usually there are symptoms that can alert you to a potential problem. A classic symptom is chest pressure or left arm discomfort, which occurs during stress (physical or emotional), and goes away with rest, or with nitroglycerin, a medication that dilates blood vessels. Heart disease symptoms differ in intensity and some symptoms might not develop until after there’s been extensive damage to a person’s heart and blood vessels. Some people experience only a few of the symptoms of a heart attack.

  6. Doctors now know that heart disease is so deadly for women that their chances of dying from it are one in two. That means basically that either you or your best girlfriend is likely to die of a heart attack, stroke , or related heart problem. Doctors have traditionally used a one-size-fits-all approach to identifying and diagnosing heart disease. In this view, women often lack the “classic” signs of reduced blood flow to part of the heart, a condition known as ischemia. Doctors and patients often attribute chest pains in women to noncardiac causes, leading to misinterpretation of their condition. Men usually experience crushing chest pain during a heart attack.

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