According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.”
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, bringing attention to seniors who are at risk of experiencing this dangerous medical condition. May is also National High Blood Pressure Education Month, a condition that is a major risk factor for stroke.
In light of these crucial awareness events, senior home care specialists of Comfort Home Care in Rockville, MD, discuss the importance of stroke awareness for seniors and how to prevent its occurrence, especially for African Americans who are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Continue reading for more information.
The Stats on Strokes
Strokes, the leading cause of death in America, occur when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either by a blood clot or the rupture of a blood vessel, causing brain cells to die. This can lead to long-term disability or death.
There are two types of strokes: ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) and hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a bleeding blood vessel).
The risk and causes of strokes varies by race and ethnicity. The risk for Black non-hispanic adults is nearly twice that of White adutls.
The Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
As the risk for stroke increases with age, seniors, family members, and caregivers should understand the early warning signs and symptoms of a stroke in an effort to prevent them.
The symptoms may vary depending on the type of stroke, but the most common signs to look for include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
- Severe headache with an unknown cause
- Trouble speaking or confusion
- Vision loss in one or both eyes
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Difficulty walking or sudden falling
An easy acronym to remember these signs of a stroke is F.A.S.T.
Time to call 911
If you notice any signs of FAST stroke symptoms it’s crucial to promptly seek medical attention immediately.
Risk Factors of A Stroke
While anyone can have a stroke, there are certain conditions that can contribute to to a stroke
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- High Cholesterol
- Lack of Exercise
African Americans and Stroke
Black Americans have a higher prevalence of stroke and highest death rate from stroke than any other racial group. due to genetics, lifestyle, and socio-economic factors. While we don’t know all the reasons why African Americans have a higher risk rate there are a couple of conditions that are more prevalent in the African American culture that can lead to strokes
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- High Blood Pressure
The Most risk factors can be reduced through lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity.
In addition, controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels is vital in preventing stroke, especially among African Americans. Being aware of the early warning signs of stroke can help save lives and minimize the damage caused by a stroke.
The Connection Between High Blood Pressure and Stroke
As we pointed out, high blood pressure is a serioust risk factor for strokes. Elevated blood pressure levels increase the risk of stroke in severaldifferent ways. The consistent pressure on the blood vessel walls causes damage to the arterial lining, leading to a build-up of plaque or fat. This, in turn, narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow to the organs, raising the risk of ischemic stroke.
Elevated blood pressure levels can cause also an aneurysm, which occurs when a weakened area of a blood vessel bulges, leading to rupture and bleeding. This can causes a more severe stroke called an hemorrhagic stroke, which is more severe than an ischemic stroke.
African Americans have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure compared to other ethnic groups. The most common cause of hypertension in the African American community is linked to genetics.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer,” as it rarely shows symptoms. However, there are some signs for individuals who have high blood pressure that include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Vision problems
- Blood in the urine
Medical attention is necessary if you notice any of these conditions. Contact your doctor immediately if you start to experience any of them.
Adopting Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Pressure and Stroke Risk
Lifestyle changes are crucial to managing high blood pressure levels and preventing strokes.
Seniors, their family members or caregivers should encourage the following lifestyle changes:
- A healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products
- A decrease in sodium intake
- Regular physical activity
- Quitting smoking
- Stress management through relaxation techniques or therapy
The Importance of Monitoring Blood Pressure Levels
If you have read this far in our article, you now recognize the importance of knowing your blood pressure levels. If you have had elevated levels, we suggest monitoring them by keeping a daily record of blood pressure levels and bringing this record to your doctor for review. Regular blood pressure monitoring can alert your medical team if your medication is working as it should or if adjustments or additional intervention is required.
It’s essential to understand the contributions of hypertension to strokes and implement preventative measures to safeguard our senior loved ones. National Stroke Awareness Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month serve as a reminder for seniors, family members, and caregivers to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of stroke. By getting regular checkups, taking medication, eating healthily, and adopting lifestyle changes, seniors can significantly reduce their risk of stroke, leading to better long-term health.
Contact Comfort Home Care
Comfort Home Care in Rockville, MD, has been providng in-home care for clients dealing with the aftermath of strokes since 1999. We are highly skilled at recognizing the symptoms and signs of strokes and work with all of our clients to live healthy lifestyles in order to live full and rewarding lives.