Monday, October 10, 2011


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I. Introduction

On April 4th 00, my family’s life changed dramatically. My Mom came home from my grandmothers and laid down because she had a headache. When she got up to take some medicine she noticed that she couldn’t move her right leg very well and couldn’t raise her right arm. She was rushed to Adena hospital and they diagnosed her as having a stroke, and made the decision that she needed to be life flighted to OSU hospital in Columbus. She underwent surgery to repair the broken blood vessel on her brain the next morning. My mom was in ICU for 5 days and in OSU for a month. The doctors believed she would not survive. My mother is strong individual and I knew she would defeat the odds and did. Now that I have shared this story with you, I would like to inform you today on what a stroke is, some of the risk factors, and symptoms that may help you if you, a family member or a friend become a victim of a stroke.

II. Body

- A stroke can occur in two different ways. Either a blood clot forms and blocks off a blood vessel, or a blood vessel in the brain breaks causing a hemorrhage of blood. Both of these cut off blood flow to areas of the brain, and cause a stroke.

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-Once this has occurred the area of cells around the block or breaks, begin to die within a few minutes to a few hours. Without medical intervention the death of brain cells spreads like a chain reaction. The body cannot replace brain cells that have died.

- The death of brain cells causes loss of control of the abilities that the affected area of the brain once controlled.

Stroke is one of the most preventable of all life-threatening health problems. I would now like to tell you some of the known risk factors of a stroke. There are two different classes of risk factors, those we can control and those we can not control. Some uncontrollable risk factors are

a persons RACE - It has been proven that African Americans have a higher risk of having a stroke than most other racial groups.

AGE - Two thirds of all stroke victims are people over the age of 65. The risk of someone having a stroke doubles with each decade past age 55.

GENDER - Males have a slightly higher risk than females, however more stroke survivors over the age of 65 are women because women have a longer life expectancy than men do.

History of Diabetes - Persons with a history of diabetes have a higher risk of having a stroke, which is believed to be due to the circulation problems that diabetes causes.

Those are four of the risk factors that are out of our control. It is important to remember that having one or more uncontrollable stroke risk factor does not make a person fated to have a stroke. With proper attention to controllable stroke risk factors, the impact of uncontrollable factors can be greatly reduced. Now after saying that, I would like to inform you of some of the controllable risk factors.

High Blood Pressure - Hypertension or high blood pressure increases the risk of having a stroke 4 to 6 times that of a person without hypertension. This is the most important of all controllable risk factors. High blood pressure causes stroke by stressing vessel walls causing either blood clots or hemorrhage. The doctors who helped my mother after her stroke believe that high blood pressure was what caused her to have a stroke. She had not been taking her medicine on a regular basis as her doctor had prescribed. This also was the most important thing that they monitored following her stroke and her surgery.

Heart Disease - Heart disease increases risk of stroke up to 6 times. Heart disease is usually an irregular heartbeat, which allows blood to pool in the heart. When the blood is allowed to pool it can form clots which then can be lodged in the brain.

Sleep Apnea - Sleep apnea can cause strokes in two different ways, one by causing an increase in blood pressure, and two by developing very low levels of oxygen in the blood while carbon dioxide levels rise increasing risk of blood clots. Diagnosing sleep apnea early may be an important stroke prevention tool.

Smoking - smoking doubles risk of stroke. Smoking damages blood vessel walls, speeds up the clogging of arteries by deposits, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder.

Weight - Excess weight strains the entire circulatory system. It also leads to other more threatening risk factors such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Alcohol - Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with stroke in a small number of research studies. Recent studies also show moderate alcohol consumption, such as one 4 oz. glass of wine or equivalent alcohol, may protect against stroke by raising levels of a naturally occurring clot-buster in the blood.

I would now like to share some very common symptoms that are associated with having a stroke.

Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially when it is associated with only one side of the body.

Sudden confusion, trouble with speaking or understanding.

Sudden trouble seeing in one eye or both.

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

As you can see all of these symptoms are sudden, therefore if any one of these symptoms occur it is critical that you act quickly to get medical attention to the victim. The quick reaction my father had may have been what saved my mothers life.

There is still so much we don’t know about how the brain compensates for the damage caused by stroke. Some brain cells may only be temporarily damaged, not killed, and may resume functioning. Stroke survivors sometimes experience remarkable and unanticipated recoveries that can not be explained. General recovery guidelines show 10% of stroke survivors recover almost completely, 5% recover with minor impairments, 40% experience moderate to severs impairments requiring special care, 10% require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, 15% die shortly after the stroke.

III. Conclusion

It has been over one year since my Mom suffered her stroke. Her life is not as independent as it used to be. Caring for a stroke victim takes patience, understanding and a lot of time. Many adjustments have to be made to accommodate some stroke victims. Our house has been rearranged to fit her needs, such as a ramp to the front door, and widening doorframes. Most stroke victims must also attend physical and speech therapy. My mother goes to both regularly. Stroke victims usually have to relearn basic skills, such as dressing, eating, walking, and speaking to name a few. Rehabilitation actually starts in the hospital as soon as possible after the stroke. In patients who are stable, rehabilitation may begin within two days after the stroke has occurred, and should be continued as necessary after the release from the hospital. Depending on the severity of the stroke, rehabilitation options include a rehabilitation unit in a hospital, a subacute care unit, a rehabilitation hospital, home therapy, home with outpatient therapy, a long-term care facility that provides therapy and skilled nursing care. My Mom sometimes doesn’t realize that she can’t do all the things that she used to be able to do, and that sometimes cause conflict and frustration for her. Stroke victims know how to do things in their mind, but can’t get their body to actually do them. Caring for my Mom has improved the family interaction, and closeness that we have to one another. I just wish my mother’s stroke was not the reason for my family to become closer. Maybe some of the things I discussed will help you prevent this from happening to you or someone you know and love.

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