In the Blink of an Eye

by GiGi Sampson

Humor me . . . blink your eyes!

Do you know how fast the blink of an eye really is? Research indicates we blink approximately 12 times per minute and on average a blink takes approximately 300 to 400 MILLISECONDS. That’s pretty darn quick!

Consider this – in the blink of an eye , any one of us could have our lives change forever. In the blink of an eye , any one of us could have a stroke or someone we care about could have one.

 

Did you know strokes are our nation’s 3rd leading cause of death?

What exactly is a stroke? A stroke occurs when a blood vessel is either blocked by a clot or ruptures, preventing blood from carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to parts of the brain. When that happens, the area of the brain that doesn’t receive blood begins to die and the body functions controlled by that area become hindered.

 There are three critical things I want you to take away from this article:

I want you to be able to:

– RECOGNIZE signals

– RESPOND quickly

– REDUCE risks

Let’s look at signals so we can RECOGNIZE them:  

 

• 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.

• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

One evening I was on the phone with my best friend (age 51). I’d called to see how she was doing because she was having some severe health issues and was scheduled for surgery. She didn’t sound like herself; her speech was somewhat slurred and she complained about the lack of control in one of her legs. Back in the dark recesses of my brain something nagged at me but I remembered she’d just told me she’d taken some pain medication the doctor had prescribed. I decided the slurred speech and loss of coordination in her leg were due to the pain med. Perhaps if I’d been quicker to recognize and acknowledge those signals and respond , she might have only had one stroke . . . instead of three! Fortunately, she recovered and is in good health today. She still has slight trouble with the coordination of that leg from time to time but she’s very lucky not to have had more devastating and lingering consequences.

If you ever suspect someone is having a stroke, please RESPOND quickly. Time is of the essence! The shorter the time from stroke to treatment – the shorter the recovery time and the lower the risk for lasting damage. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THE SIGNALS & SYMPTOMS CAN GO AWAY AS FAST AS THEY APPEARED. Remember, “Time lost is brain lost .”

Are we at risk? Let’s see.

The American Stroke Association lists the following risk factors:

Unchangeable/uncontrollable factors include:

a. Chances for having a stroke more than doubles each decade after age 55 BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE – STROKES DO NOT RESPECT AGE – children as young as 11 years of age have had strokes!

b. Men are more prone to strokes than women; HOWEVER, more women die from stroke than men.

c. Risk of stroke is greater for those who have parents, grandparents, or siblings that have had strokes.

d. People who have had a stroke, heart attack or TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks) have a higher risk factor than those who have not. TIAs are “warning strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but typically leave no lasting damage.

Good news! Some risk factors that can be changed and/or controlled:

a. High blood pressure

b. Cigarette smoking

c. High cholesterol

d. Diabetes

e. Heart disease or arterial disease

f. Sickle cell anemia

g. Poor diets such as those high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium *

h. Obesity / lack of physical activity

I have both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors – how about you?

 What we can do to REDUCE our risk of having a stroke?

The American Stroke Association tells us . . . “Exercise your POWER!”

P ut down cigarettes and stop smoking.

O bserve advice from your doctor and know your family’s medical history.

W atch your weight and be physically active at least 30 minutes on most days.

E at healthy; avoid foods high in saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol and sodium.

R egulate high blood pressure and diabetes.

What can we do to help knock stroke out of its “3rd place position?”

1) KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! Learn all you can about strokes so you can RECOGNIZE the signals and RESPOND. Visit stroke.org, strokeassociation.org

2) Help raise awareness – educate your friends, family and co-workers so we can all REDUCE our risk.

Strokes occur “In the Blink of an Eye.” Please for yourself and for the people you care about, be ready to:

 – -RECOGNIZE signals

– – RESPOND quickly

– – REDUCE risks

If you have comments or questions for the author, you can email GiGi at tidbitz2009@yahoo.com .

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