Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and about half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking. Stroke and heart attack are both a result from lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain and heart.
A stroke occurs when blood supply is blocked from part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. If parts of the brain become damaged or die it can result in brain damage, disability, and sometimes even death.
Shaun Fant, Occupational Therapist and Director of Rehab at MountainView Hospital, emphasizes the importance of talking with your doctor regularly and knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are two treatments that are commonly offered: Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a clot-dissolving medication, and clot removal. The outcomes of both of these are best when treated within the first five hours.
Some common symptoms of stroke are paralysis of one side of the body, stiff muscles, vision impairment, and difficulty speaking. A convenient way to remember these are to memorize F.A.S.T., which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time, and can help you remember what signs to look for.
Shaun recommends the following top five practices to prevent stroke and develop long-term benefits:
- Healthy Diet
- Healthy Weight
- Physical Activity
- No Smoking
- Limited Alcohol Intake
Healthy lifestyles also can help increase your chances for a healthy heart, as well.
A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying the heart with oxygen and blood gets blocked suddenly and unexpectedly. Tam Bell, a nurse for more than 30 years, said that men and women can show different symptoms at times.
Women may experience pain or discomfort in the stomach. Other common symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest, arm or shoulder
- Jaw, neck, or back pain or stiffness
- Shortness of breath
It is common to need additional medical attention after experiencing a stroke or heart attack, depending on the severity, such as rehab, physical therapy, medication, and more. Cardiac rehab is very important to recovery after a heart attack or heart procedures and can help patients improve their heart’s future.
“Choosing the best inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation center is important for a patient’s long-term recover,” Tam said. “In cases of a stroke, oftentimes patients need to relearn the activities of daily life, or maybe learn how to modify daily routines. Sometimes regaining strength is the goal.
“At MountainView, we offer an inpatient rehabilitation facility, as well as outpatient services to help with the continuum of care and to help patients reach their goals after a stroke or heart attack.”
MountainView Hospital has a team of specialists who can guide your care and help prevent complications. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1.