Quick Guide to Stroke

What Is Stroke?

Stroke kills almost 130,000 of the 800,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year – that’s 1 in every 19 deaths from all causes. Every year, about 610,000 people in the United States have a new stroke.

For my international folks – African-Caribbean persons have stroke rates that are 1.5 to 2.5 times greater than Europeans. Mortality rates for strokes per 100,000 vary from country to country. A study performed in 2002 shows rates between countries. It ranges from 65 in Trinidad and Tobago, 73 in Barbados, 175 in Guyana, 132 in Jamaica ( standardized to world population)

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. You can greatly reduce your risk for stroke through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Are You at Risk?

Anyone, including children, can have a stroke. Several unhealthy habits that you can affect can increase your risk for stroke.

These include

  • Smoking
  • Drinking Too Much Alcohol
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle Cell Disease (African/Caribbean population)

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The five most common signs and symptoms of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with noknown cause

If you think that you or someone you know is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you are not sure, do this simple test F.A.S.T

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

It is important to note the time when any symptoms first appear. Some treatments for stroke only work if given in the first 3 hours after symptoms appear. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.


How Is Stroke Diagnosed?

Your doctor can perform several tests to diagnose stroke, including brain imaging, tests of the brain’s electrical activity, and blood flow tests.

Can it be prevented?

You can take several steps to reduce your risk for stroke:

DON’T WAIT TO GET HELP – these signs are life threatening!

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Be physically active
  • Don’t smoke

For further resources check out these websites.

CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

CDC’s Healthy Weight Web site

CDC’s Physical Activity Web site

CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health Web site

CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site

American Stroke Association:

How Is It Treated?

If you have a stroke, you will probably need emergency care, along with preventative treatements. There will also be rehabilitation (including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy) to help you relearn the skills you may have lost. In addition, lifestyle changes, such as the ones listed above, can help lower your risk for future strokes. Talk with your health care provider about the best ways to reduce your stroke risk.

Have Questions or want to talk more about your risks and how I can help you decrease them? Click below to schedule a phone consult with me today!

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Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

Physical Therapist at Performance Plus Physical Therapy
Danelle Dickson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Morgan State University in 2003, then her Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware in 2007. After graduating, she earned her  Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Certification in 2012. She is continually increasing her knowledge base with post graduate continuing education from manual based courses such as Institute of Physical Arts and St. Augustine courses. Additionally, she has also presented research at local (APTA) and international (IADMS) conferences on dancers, and has published her research with Journal of Dance Medicine and Science.

Danelle combines her 10+ year of clinical, research, and administrative experience  to produce a well rounded, patient driven experience at Performance Plus Physical Therapy. She currently works with patients with orthopedic, sports and Performing arts conditions, along with taking care of the local dance population, and mentoring local physical therapy students as a clinical instructor.
Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

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