What is a stroke?

I was browsing the web today and came upon a stem cell website.  I had my stroke over 14 years ago and thought that I understood how a stroke happened pretty clearly but boy did things become clearer today!  I read what had to be the very best explanation of stroke I have ever read.  There were an adequate supply of “technical” terms to make most health professionals happy, too.

Stroke is explained on almost every website that has content about stroke.  I have always felt that most of these explanations always lacked a practical explanation that left the reader with a true understanding of what a stroke truly is.  We all know that a stroke happens when the flow of oxygen is prevented from going to the brain.  Stroke  involves much more than that though.

I was always confused between the terms, thrombosis and ischemic.  To me an ischemic stroke meant that it was a clot; ischemic meaning a clot caused the stroke.  This is true and false, both.  It is true that ischemic means that a clot caused the stroke but actually the word, thrombosis, is the correct medical term for clot.  So, technically, a thrombosis causes an ischemic stroke.

You learn something everyday!  Hey, what do I know, anyway?  I had a brainstem stroke!  Go to http://www.xcell-center.com/treatments/diseases-treated/stroke.aspx for this excellent explanation about stroke.


Recognizing Stroke

Could you recognize if somebody was having a stroke? You probably think that you will NEVER need to know this! I guess that knowing this information is sort of like the need to know how to do CPR. It is good to know how to do it but chances are remote that you would actually ever use it.

Have you ever received the email forward about how to recognize a stroke? You know; the picture of a bald guy with his head tilted back.  Half of his brain is exposed and it shows him having a stroke.  This email explains how to recognize a stroke.  It is basically a practical way for the people around you to know how to evaluate somebody having a stroke.  Again, like the CPR example, hopefully, you will never need it but you will be prepared in case it does.

Knowing how to recognize a stroke should be part of the school curriculum.  In fact, stroke education should be a mandatory course taught starting in middle school.  More people, especially young people, would benefit from this knowledge.  Kids would gain big time from having this wisdom.  If you look at the BIG picture, later on in life, those kids will become young adults then middle aged parents and finally senior citizens.  Stroke happens at any age; it does not discriminate between races and is seen at any time and in all walks of life.   Being a person that is aware of and could spot when someone is having a stroke would be awesome!

You probably need to have a vision of how having a stroke education class would work but I can see how teaching young kids would only be helpful.  Just think, if more people could identify a stroke there might be less strokes each year.  In the United States we have 750000 strokes per year.  Also, we have 160000 deaths attributed to stroke.  Stroke is the number 1 cause of permanent serious disability and the number 3 cause of death.

I would like to see these and all the other statistics about stroke reduced.  Recognizing stroke starts with you knowing the warning signs for yourself but it also includes knowing when someone else is displaying the symptoms.  Just like CPR, having the education and awareness to recognize a stroke could mean the difference of someone being severely permanently disabled or even dying!

At a minimum, read the forwarded email; even if you have received it at least 10 times and from 10 different people.  Being the only person in a crowd of people watching a downed friend could mean EVERYTHING!


Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify.  Use the FAST chart below as an easy way to help you recognize when someone may be having a stroke.  Unfortunately, the lack of awareness can spell disaster. Every second counts!  The individual may suffer severe brain damage if stroke is not identified and properly treated within 3 hours! 

A bystander can recognize a stroke by asking these three simple questions:


1.  Ask the individual to SMILE.

Is one side of their face drooping?


2.  Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

Can they raise both arms equally?


3.  Ask the person to TALK, to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE.

Can they speak coherently?


If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.




Statistics about Stroke

Everybody knows that stroke is the number 1 cause of serious permanent disability.  They also know that stroke is the number 3 cause of death and every 45 seconds someone has one; between 500000 and 750000 Americans have a stroke every year.  These are common well known statistics about stroke but what about the other statistics that are little known?  This data is almost equally compelling and to some people even more important. 

What about the fact that stroke affects 225000 people per year under age 45?  I believe this number.  I was only 36 when I had my stroke.  Practically every stroke survivor that I have met on-line since 1995 was under 40.  What does this number mean?  Why so many young people? 

I have a theory about this.  It is not based on scientific data.  It comes intuitively from dealing with literally thousands of stroke survivors through on-line chat sessions and message board forums for over 12 years.  Stress… stress is DEFINITELY a factor in strokes for young people.  I cannot think of a single stroke survivor that did not bring up their stressful work environment as being a large factor before them having a stroke. 

What does that tell you?  Of course the work place will not acknowledge their part in causing stroke.  I KNOW that too much stress played some role in causing my stroke; I was working 12 to 14 hours nearly every day of the week for months.  I was severely stressed out and it almost killed me! 

Take the fact that four out of five families will be touched by stroke.  That is 80%; 80 out of 100 families are affected by stroke.  That is a very large number when you think about it.  Only 20 people out of 100 are not affected.  Practically everyone you know, 4 out of 5 people, will know someone that had a stroke.  This number is extremely scary! 

Here is an interesting statistic; amongst women over 45, stroke is more common than heart attack.   Also, every year, stroke kills twice as many women as women with breast cancer.  Who would of thunk?  You hear so much hype about heart attack and breast cancer!  If you factor in stroke with these two and then just look at women affected by stroke, the seriousness of this will blow you away!  Why doesn’t stroke get more hype? 

Did you know that the incidence of stroke is double of that between African Americans and white Americans?  Whoa!  That means that of the 750000 strokes per year that about 500000 are African Americans and only 250000 are white.  Stroke kills 160000 per year and this statistic means that over 100000 of them are black. 

Does this mean that most people have higher incidents of high blood pressure?  Of course, hypertension is a factor in 70% of strokes.  This equates to 350000 cases of high blood pressure amongst the black community and 175000 amongst whites.  What in the world is going on with us?  I think that the lack of exercise and our fatty diets are the cause. 

These are just a few statistics people need to know about.  Statistics can tell a very powerful story.  All statistics about stroke are important.  Look at the statistics on our stroke education website.  I have pulled all of the statistics that I have talked about from this website.  Check out http://www.strokeawareness.org/strokestatistics/.   While you are there it would not hurt to take a look around.  There is LOTS of good information! 

May is Stroke Awareness Month – my theory to solving stroke

May is stroke awareness month! It’s our month to flaunt everything we know about stroke to the able-bodied. Stroke awareness is about honoring the millions that have fallen to stroke and trying to prevent this disease from continuing its deadly rampage.

My theory is to try to get young people to understand what stroke is about. After all, stroke is greatly diet and lifestyle driven. Eating fatty foods and not exercising can cause high blood pressure. We all know that high blood pressure is the number 1 risk factor for stroke.

I know that if we can get this message out to our children and have them understand the risks associated with having corrosive diets and dormant lifestyles could drastically reduce strokes. This is a totally unrealistic goal, though. Kids love being a couch potato, sitting dormant while playing on the computer or on a video game and eating massive quantities of junk foods. All of this is just asking for a stroke to happen in later life.

What are we to do? I have a couple of more crazy theories about what to do. One of my theories is to get the word out that stroke do not just happen to old people. I think that most people think you have to be over 80 to have a stroke. Proof is, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 33% of people having strokes are over age 80 while 30% are between 18 and 64 years of age. This is an astounding number when you think about it. There is not much difference between the ages of younger and older people having strokes!

Another theory of mine is to get results from kids by scaring them straight. I think that every kid, as part of the high school curriculum, should have to take a field trip to their local hospital with a stroke ward. Seriously, this would be highly educational and would also show them what happens to people that have a stroke. Let them see the arms hanging limp! Let them see the physical horrors that every patient endures, the speech deficits, the loss of cognitive skills. Make them visit speech, physical and occupational therapy sessions!

Lastly, make the high school students attend a local stroke support group. Let them hear the daily grief and depression that most stroke survivors deal with. Let them see the raw emotions and crying that happen when stroke survivors think and attempt to talk about. Give them a school project where they cannot use an arm, speak or walk for 24 hours and then have them keep an hourly diary about the frustrations they face.

Our salvation from having strokes is not just to treat them or try to reverse the damages. It is to prevent them from happening them at all. Do your duty during the month of May. Honor those who have fallen from stroke. Get the word out to our young folks! Show them this trivia about stroke.

Visit our stroke education web page at http://www.StrokeEducation.info/ .

Learn your fact about stroke and let the able-bodied know. Purchase your stroke awareness wristbands, lapel pins, hats, etc. Go to our on-line stroke awareness store at http://www.strokenetstore.net/ and buy something to wear .

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