Myths about stroke can be deadly
Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the United States, says Joseph P. Hanna, MD, Medical Director of the MetroHealth Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center. Despite that, misconceptions about strokes are prevalent. Dr. Hanna is quick to list several of the most common myths about strokes:
Stroke can't be prevented. Reality: The two biggest factors that lead to stroke - high blood pressure and smoking - can be dealt with. Dr. Hanna says high blood pressure is the greatest indicator of strokes for those 50 and older. Smoking is the greatest indicator of strokes for people younger than 50.
Stroke happens to old people. Reality: "Stroke affects everybody, all races, ages and walks of life," says Dr. Hanna.
Stroke is painful. Reality: Strokes are usually painless.
A stroke won't kill me. Reality: "A stroke is more deadly than a gunshot wound to the abdomen," says Dr. Hanna. Only one in five stroke survivors return to their previous lifestyle.
Strokes are so deadly, says Dr. Hanna, because people do not pay attention to the early signs. "Oh, I have a headache. I'll go take a nap. Oh, I'm having trouble walking. I must be tired. I'll go take a nap," says Dr. Hanna. That rest time can be deadly.
"Prevention and early intervention are the keys," says Dr. Hanna.
MetroHealth has a team of medical professionals highly experienced in preventing and dealing with strokes. MetroHealth was the first Northeast Ohio hospitals to earn the Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care from The Joint Commission and has won the Stroke Gold Performance Achievement Award from the American Stroke Association three years in a row.
If you experience the following symptoms, call 911 immediately.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you think someone you are with might be having a stroke, follow the FAST protocol:
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side the face droop?
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: As the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
What you can do to help prevent stroke
- Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated.
- Stop smoking. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke.
- Control your alcohol use. Drink only in moderation, meaning no more than two alcoholic drinks each day.
- Know your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels can lead to clogged arteries.
- Control diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight strains the circulatory system.
For more information about stroke or to request a free Stroke Education Toolkit, visit www.metrohealth.org/stroke.