As many of you know by now, my father had a heart attack last month. It was immensely terrifying to see someone in good health, suddenly dealing with something so serious.
What you may not know, is he went through a similar experience with his mom. Only she had a stroke and didn’t receive the quick, immediate care that my father did, which left her with permanent changes to her brain.
Here’s where I’m going to open myself to being a bit ignorant of health issues…I didn’t really understand the difference. They both deal with arteries and honestly, I’d only really heard them mentioned in quick passing or you know on Grey’s Anatomy as they fly in to an OR to save the day.
I’d never been up close with the doctors to understand the complete difference.
And what I now know is most of us don’t know enough about spotting a stroke or even what it really means and why we need to be paying attention.
Understanding a Stroke
When UCHealth reached out to be about their program to raise awareness for the symptoms of a stroke, I wanted in! We tend to assume as athletes, people who take care of ourselves we’re immune to these things, but we’re not.
My grandmother was an avid golfer, extremely active, they cooked all their meals, she didn’t smoke and yet a stroke changed her entire life because she wasn’t able to get help quickly enough.
In fact, did you know stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and fifth-leading cause of death in the United States? What?! You don’t hear about it with pink ribbons and purple ribbons, but it’s happening more and more in Millennials and our awareness can change the outcome.
“Most people think that having a stroke is something that only happens to older people, but the impact of stroke is significant — it is uniquely complex in younger adults, in midst of careers, serving as wage earners and caregivers, who may suffer disability that can impact their lives and the lives of family members and loved ones,” said Mary George, author of a study on the rise of stroke in young adults.
What happens after a stroke?
It all depends on the time to treatment. In my grandmothers case, it changed her life and our family’s forever. She lost a great deal of her short term memory and had trouble putting the right words together, though she knew what she wanted to say.
For a women who used to spend hours on the phone every night with her friends, that was stripped away. She knew who my father was when he walked in, but remembered more of his childhood than recent years.
On the other hand, quick reaction to symptoms can mean a 100% recovery.
Which is why I’m SOOOO passionate about ensuring that we all know this. It’s not just a disease that effects older people, it can happen to all of us.
A recent study said that 75% of adults under 45 wouldn’t know the symptoms of a stroke if they were happening. And in those 25-43 only about 25% of us would know them, though it’s rapidly rising among our peers.
Do you know the symptoms?
Not only could it save your life (or someone you love), but your QUALITY of life. Time is one of the key elements in how well someone recovers after a stroke due to the amount of time the brain was deprived of oxygen.
UCHealth shared the awesome B.E.F.A.S.T. acronym with me and I thought “well I hope that one resonates with runners“. This is such a massive and important issue, I hope you’ll pin this image so that more people can be made aware.
BALANCE Falling or unable to walk straight.
EYES Unable to focus.
FACE Uneven or drooping smile.
ARM One arm is weak.
SPEECH Slurred or jumbled speech.
TIME TO CALL Call 911 if you suspect any symptoms.
Stroke Risk Factors
Not sure if you need to worry about stroke? Here’s the thing…it happens to even healthy people, just like my dad’s heart attack. Sometimes you do everything right, but get a virus or something else, so you gotta know B.E.F.A.S.T.
If you aren’t sure about your risk, take the UCHealth online risk evaluation tool.
The most common risk factors for stroke that you can control include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity or physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use or illegal drug use
I hope this post was as helpful for you as it was for me! I didn’t realize this was something so prevalent and how important our knowledge is to recovery!
Have you known anyone who had a stroke?
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This post is sponsored by UCHealth.