When I first heard that award-winning, Hollywood film producer John Singleton had been placed on life support, I immediately wanted to know why? After all, I knew he was barely 50, so what could have possibly landed him in such a dire situation? Could it have been a heart attack or a freak accident? No. It was a stroke!
Several months back, I wrote an article about men’s health and the importance of making sure that regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments for the men in our lives are a priority. Singleton’s untimely death has me back in that mindset with a specific emphasis on the signs of a stroke and measures that we can take to prevent one.
What is a stroke? According to MayoClinic.org, “A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.”
It is important to remember that a stroke is a medical emergency that needs to be treated immediately. The sooner care is provided, the greater chance that less damage is done. The good news is that more information is being circulated about how to identify stroke symptoms via Public Service Announcements, social media, radio/TV programs and community events such as health fairs.
One of the most common ways to identify a stroke is using the acronym FAST as recommended by the National Stroke Association:
F – Face
If you think someone may be having a stroke, look at their face to see if one side is drooping.
A – Arms
Ask the person to raise their arms. Check to see if one arm drifts downward.
S – Speech
Check to see if the person’s speech is slurred, hard to understand or strange.
T – Time to Call 911
If you observe any of the above signs, call for help immediately.
Finally, let’s cover a few healthy lifestyle tips that can help lessen the potential of becoming a stroke victim:
- Healthy eating habits – It’s a no-brainer that adding healthier foods to your diet can help with the prevention of a stroke and countless other ailments. Make a conscious decision to eat more fruits and vegetables and consult with your doctor to develop a diet that is customized to your needs.
- Physical activity – Exercising at least 3 times a week is a great way to reduce the likelihood of a stroke. Take brisk walks or take an exercise class! Any movement is good!
- Monitor your levels – Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These numbers have a direct connection to the possibility of having a stroke. Regular doctor visits help you stay on top of your numbers!
- Reduce your stress levels – High stress situations can have an impact on your blood pressure, so try to avoid stressful situations as much as possible including on the job, at home and other environments where your presence is required.
There are also hereditary traits that make some of us more susceptible to stroke than others. This is why it is important to know your family’s medical history and to make sure that your healthcare providers are also aware of any conditions that “run in the family.”
Playing an active role in your wellness is one of the best ways to get ahead of or even prevent serious health conditions. Remember, your health matters!
Follow Dr. Janet Seabrook on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more information about health and wellness. Visit www.drjanetseabrook.com and sign up to receive regular updates and health information.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader.
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