Strokes, also known as cerebrovascular events or brain attacks, are a leading cause of death in the United States. The most common types of strokes are classified as ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is occluded by a blood clot and accounts for 87% of all strokes. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is torn or bursts, leaking blood into the surrounding brain tissue and causing damage.
According to the CDC, every year close to 800,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke. Approximately 34% of those occur in adults under the age of 65. Although adults over age 65 are generally considered to be most at risk for stroke, they do occur in children and younger adults as well.
The three primary risk factors for having a stroke include
- high blood pressure
- high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
The CDC finds that half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Other serious risk factors include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
Life After a Stroke
During a stroke, blood is cut off from a certain area of the brain causing damage to that area. After a stroke, a patient may be left with residual problems, including: difficulty walking or performing physical activities, impaired muscle tone, difficulty speaking, sensation changes including pain or numbness, paralysis and an overall decreased independence in life.
However, having a stroke does not necessarily mean one must forego his or her interests and hobbies. Physical, occupational and speech therapists specialize in treating individuals who have suffered strokes and work with patients to regain lost functions. Rehabilitation provided by an interdisciplinary team provides the resources stroke survivors need to return to everyday life and interests such as: cycling, running, gardening – even skateboarding and driving.
It is important to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and act immediately. The National Stroke Association urges you to act FAST.
F: Does one side of the Face droop?
A: Does one Arm drift downward?
S: Is their Speech slurred or strange?
T: Time is essential.
If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
– Deanna Hall, Physical Therapist
– Christine Jacobson, Student Physical Therapist
St. David’s Rehabilitation Neurological Day Program