If you're a family member who is a caregiver to a loved one in the San Francisco Bay Area, no doubt you know that strokes are dangerous - but did you know many can be prevented? According to a report from the Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre at the Robarts Research Institute, up to 90% of recurrent strokes can be prevented, while at least 50% of first strokes could be prevented. So, how can you help ensure your aging loved one isn't the victim of a stroke?
First, know the major risk factors. These include:
Many of these risk factors are within our control. For instance, a person can avoid or stop smoking, decrease alcohol intake, exercise more, and eat a healthier diet which can have a positive impact on diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
What are the warning signs of a stroke? Keep "FAST" in mind, which stands for face, arms, speech, and time. If you suspect your aging loved one is having a stroke, ask him or her to smile and note whether one side of the face droops. When raising both arms, does one drift down and have trouble remaining up in the air? When speaking, do you notice your loved one's speech seems odd in some way or is their speech slurred? When you notice any or all of these warning signs, dial 911 right away. The sooner medical attention is sought, the higher the chance of a complete or better recovery.
You may notice other signs of a stroke, depending on which section of the brain is affected. For instance, some may experience numbness or weakness on one side of the body, vertigo, double vision, loss of balance, or visual symptoms/loss of vision, depending on whether the stroke occurs in the back portion of the brain or the front portion.
As a caregiver, you can help by ensuring your elderly loved one eats a healthy diet, exercises, stops smoking, and takes medications, if prescribed, to treat high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol. There are lots of things you can do to help prevent a stroke!
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