If you are like most people, when you hear that someone had a stroke, you likely think they were an older person. Probably elderly and already sick, right? While the majority of stroke victims are over the age of 65, the medical community is recognizing that the incidence of strokes among younger people is rising.
That means more people in the age range of 45-50 years old are experiencing strokes. If you are in this age demographic, the chance you have school-aged children at home is also a high possibility. Knowing the risk factors and signs of a stroke will help you educate your children in the event they need to call 911.
Risk Factors for a Stroke
Lifestyle Choices: Eat Better!
Like so many other medical conditions, your lifestyle choices play a role in increasing your risk of stroke. One of the biggest lifestyle habits we can all benefit from is better nutrition.
Excess weight on the body puts a strain on the circulatory system. Being overweight or obese also increases the chance of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. All of these conditions increase a person’s risk of experiencing a stroke.
Lifestyle Choices: Get More Active!
Studies have shown that people who are more physically active are less likely to have a stroke. More specifically, people who exercise five or more times a week.
The Center of Disease Control recommends that adults receive 150 minutes of moderately-intense activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like a brisk walk, water aerobics or bicycling. Vigorous activity is 75 minutes of higher-intensity work. Activities like running, swimming or high-cardio exercises are considered vigorous.
Twice-weekly muscle-strengthening workouts are also recommended for both a moderate or vigorous routine.
Lifestyle Choices: Stop Smoking!
If you haven’t heard yet, smoking is a terrible habit! There are absolutely no positive or redeeming qualities to smoking or using any kind of tobacco. Smoking will DOUBLE your risk of having a stroke because it thickens your blood and increases clot formation and plaque buildup in the arteries.
Lifestyle Choices: Limit Alcohol Consumption!
Alcohol for most people is acceptable in moderation. But too much can increase the risk of a stroke because it can increase blood pressure. For men, the recommendation is to not to drink more than two drinks per day. For women, it’s one drink per day.
Signs of a Stroke
While a stroke can happen gradually, more often it comes on quickly. Here are the signs to look for:
- Numbness or weakness in your arm, leg or face. Usually this occurs on only one side of the body, not both
- Confusion or trouble understanding what is going on in a situation, or what people are saying
- Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
- A feeling of imbalance, dizziness or vertigo
- Nausea or vomiting (or both)
- A headache or problems with vision (particularly double vision)
As a parent, if you know you are high risk for a stroke, you should be aware of these signs that indicate you or another person might be having a stroke. It’s quite possible you will be unable to communicate that you need help. Making sure your children also recognize the signs and know to call for help is an important conversation to have with them.
What’s happening during a stroke is that your brain is not receiving the blood flow it needs. You need to get help as FAST as possible. If you are physically able, you can use the FAST acronym to determine if you are indeed having a stroke:
Face: Try to smile. Does one side of your face droop?
Arms: If you lift up both arms, does one side drop down?
Speech: Is your speech slurring or you cannot form words?
Time: If you answered YES to any of these questions, call or have your children call 911 immediately. Write down what time the symptoms began so you can relay that information to the medical team.
Smile Surfers Kids Dentistry
The board-certified pediatric dentists at Smile Surfers believe in whole body wellness: optimal health, good nutrition, physical activity and healthy dental habits. We encourage you to talk with your little surfers about the signs of a stroke or any other medical events that might occur to you or another parent so they know what to do.