I still remember my cardiologist walking back into the exam room with a smile on his face and telling me, “Guess what? You have AFib.” (It does reduce the anxiety when your doctor gives you such news with a smile.)
You may also be one of the nine percent of older adults 65 or older who have Atrial fibrillation or AFib. I have learned one of the most serious complications of AFib is stroke. And if you are at five times greater risk of having a stroke, it is probably a good idea to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke and know how to respond. Every minute counts and fast treatment can lessen the brain damage and a stroke’s debilitating effects.
In their efforts to raise awareness about stroke, the American Stroke Association (ASA) and the National Stroke Association (NSA) promote the acronym FAST which stands for:
Facial drooping – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arm weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech difficulty – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
And Time – Don’t drive yourself to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call 911 for an ambulance so medical personnel can evaluate your condition and begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. Stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms, so note the time when any symptoms first appear.
FAST covers most but doesn’t cover all the signs and symptoms. If a person suddenly has trouble doing something they normally would be able to do, it’s possible it could be a stroke. In addition to facial drooping, arm weakness or speech difficulty, sudden confusion, trouble with their vision, sudden difficulty walking or a sudden severe headache are also possible symptoms.
Finally, it is helpful to know there are two types of strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic. In a hemorrhagic stroke, a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding tissue. An Ischemic stroke is when a fatty deposit, or clot, obstructs a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.
Ischemic strokes are much more common accounting for about 87% of all cases.
If your symptoms go away after a few minutes, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Although brief, a TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help. But because TIAs clear up, many people ignore them. Paying attention to a TIA can save your life. Tell your health care provider about your symptoms right away.
People with AFib are at greater risk of a stroke, but anyone can experience a stroke. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. If you want to learn more, the ASA and NSA websites offer detailed information including diagrams and animations about strokes and how they affect people.
I received two different correct answers for last week’s question. Cheri Brent, Louise Wooderson, Laura Comini, Lana Tepfer, Diana Weston, Sandy Haechrel and Mary Haas (this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket) remember calling the rubber boots you slipped over your shoes Galoshes. And Bob Haechrel and Gary Conley remembers them as overshoes. And from some week before (I lose track of what was when), I missed Cathy Wilson’s answer Oceans Eleven and she even emailed a picture of the Rat Pack – the personification of 60’s sophisticated cool; and Marta Moser and Ron Nelson who answered correctly “Blue Plate Special” all of whom are also winners of a quilt raffle ticket each.
You may remember back in the day when someone would egg you on by daring you to do something – usually something you knew you shouldn’t. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was a dare called that was twice as challenging and used when the first dare was refused? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a DVD of the movie A Christmas Story.
Well, it’s been another week trying to keep my balance. Until we meet again, as hard as you may try it’s hard to have a big head when you keep making silly mistakes.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein