"Stroke strikes younger people, too." Assess your risk, learn prevention tips.
From The Naperville Sun:
Stroke strikes younger people, too
Experts: Avoid Beau Biden's hospital trip by eating right and exercising
May 19, 2010
By HEATHER KRYSZKA For Sun-Times Media
On May 11, Vice President Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, suffered a stroke.
At age 41, the stroke was mild, but it shows that stroke can strike at any age.
Strokes are often considered a health problem exclusive to the elderly. However, according to Lynn Cochran, administrative director for inpatient services on neurosciences at Edward Hospital, 3 percent of stroke patients are ages 18 to 45, 31 percent are age 46 to 65, and 66 percent are older than 65. This matches national trends.
"The childhood obesity rate is on its rise, and kids aren't as active as they were years ago," said Kathy Baule, advanced practice nurse. "The inactivity means they're at risk as well."
Baule also cites high fat content foods and poor dietary practices as a reason for the increased obesity in children, and asserts that stroke can even affect young children.
May is Stroke Awareness Month, and since stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., it is important to recognize the symptoms, risk factors and ways to prevent stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or interrupted. Strokes are of particular risk to those who suffer from diabetes, circulatory problems, obesity, irregular heartbeat, leg pain, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, as well as those who smoke or have a family history of heart disease or stroke.
Some of these risk factors can be prevented. People should "stop smoking, practice blood pressure management, watch their weight, become more physically active, manage diabetes, know their cholesterol numbers, and get medication if cholesterol is high," Cochran said.
According to Baule, "often a population that is missed are women who are pregnant or on hormone replacement medication," including those who take birth control pills. The hormone fluctuations make women more hypercoagular, or more likely to form clots.
Women are also at a slightly higher risk of stroke than men because of smaller blood vessels in the brain, Cochran said.
Consequences of stroke
According to the American Heart Association, the stroke warning signs to look for include: 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; and sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
When treating a stroke, every second counts. If warning signs are identified within three hours, a tissue plasminogen activator can be administered to stop blood clots.
"A lot of people will start having symptoms at home, and there's only a three-hour window to give tPA," said Baule. "It's not uncommon for people to stay at home when they start having symptoms and decide to go back to bed."
So after identifying the symptoms of a stroke, don't delay. Call 911 and don't attempt to drive yourself, said Cochran.
Edward Hospital offers both tPA and neurointerventional surgery capabilities, which involves taking a patient to a lab for clot removal.
As one of 17 Primary Stroke Centers in the Chicago area, Edward Hospital has been recognized as a Stroke Center of Excellence by the Joint Commission as well as for prominence in stroke patient care by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Get With the Guidelines program. Edward Hospital also features the Edward Neurosciences Institute, teaming up with physicians of the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation to address strokes, aneurysms and other neurological disorders.
In recognition of stroke awareness month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 25 there will be a stroke awareness community lecture and panel discussion at the Edward Education Center. Register by calling 630-527-6363.
Edward Hospital also offers stroke and vascular screenings to determine plaque buildup early. Visit edward.org and click on "stroke aware" to take a free five-minute online assessment to determine your risk for stroke.
Maybe others can avoid Biden's trip to the hospital. It might have been 'mild' but he still spent a week in the hospital and came home to rest before returning to duties as Delaware attorney general.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services