Phil & Mel In The Afternoon

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The news that actor Luke Perry suffered a massive stroke last week at the age of 52 came as quite a shock to everyone. Most of us probably associate strokes as an affliction of the elderly. My maternal grandfather died as the result of a stroke when he was in his 70s. But strokes can affect adults of any age.

On the National Stroke Association website, strokes are described as “brain attacks.” There are two types of strokes: 1) When a brain aneurysm bursts or a weakened blood vessel leaks. 2) When a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, depriving brain cells of oxygen and ultimately killing the cells.

The National Stroke Association says nearly 800,000 people experience a stroke each year. Do you know what a stroke looks like? The word everyone needs to remember is “FAST.”

FAST is an acronym that stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time. These are the things you need to pay close attention to if you suspect someone might be having a stroke:

Face: Does one side of their face droop when they smile?
Arms: Does one arm drift downward or appear weak when they raise both arms?
Speech: Does their speech sound slurred or strange when they say a simple phrase?
Time: Call 911 immediately if a person exhibits any of these signs.

Other symptoms of a stroke include: sudden numbness on one side of the body, sudden confusion or trouble speaking and understanding, sudden trouble seeing, sudden dizziness or loss of balance, and a sudden headache for no particular reason.

Time might be the most critical factor in helping someone survive a stroke. The National Stroke Association says to note the time the first symptom is observed because that can dictate treatment by medical professionals. For each minute a stroke goes untreated and blood flow to the brain continues to be blocked, a person loses about 1.9 million neurons which can affect a person’s speech, movement, memory, and more.

What can you do to decrease your chances of having a stroke? High blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, diabetes, and circulation problems are all risk factors for a stroke. The National Stroke Association recommends healthy eating habits, exercise, and avoiding smoking.

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