24 May Stroke in Seniors
May is National Stroke Awareness month and according to the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of all strokes happen in people over the age of 65. Furthermore, the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade between the ages of 55 and 85.
A stroke is a “brain attack” which happens when blood flow to the brain is stopped because it is blocked by a clot. When this occurs, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die due to lack of oxygen. Brain cells may also die because they are damaged by sudden bleeding caused by the stroke.
The good news is that 80% of all strokes are preventable by managing certain risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.
Types of Stroke
Ischemic Stroke. This type of stroke accounts for approximately 80% of all strokes. An Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.
Hemorrhagic Stroke. A Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. This is often due to a brain aneurysm–a weak or thin spot on an artery wall–that bleeds and ruptures over time. While less common than an Ischemic stroke, Hemorrhagic stroke can be more fatal accounting for 40 percent of all deaths due to stroke.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) A TIA is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain and is often referred to as a “mini stroke.” While not a stroke, because it does not cause permanent brain damage, a TIA can be a warning signal of a stroke event in the future. It should not be ignored.
Signs of Stroke
It is important to know the signs of a stroke. You or the people around you may not be aware you are having a stroke. They may think you are simply dazed or confused.
Be aware of the following signs including sudden:
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg–especially on one side of the body;
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
Difficulty walking or speaking;
Dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination;
Severe headache with no known cause.
Call 911 immediately.
A stroke is a serious medical emergency. Every minute counts to achieve a good recovery. Certain strokes can be treated with a drug that dissolves blood clots to the brain. However, this must be done within a 3-hour window. Therefore, a stroke victim must get to the hospital as soon as possible to receive evaluation and begin treatment.
Although a stroke is a disease of the brain, it can have long-term affects on the entire body. This can include: Weakness and paralysis on one side of the body; loss of memory, attention, and the ability to process information; difficulty speaking; visual problems; depression, and difficulty in controlling emotions.