Senior Health

Empowering seniors to take charge of their health and wellness.

Myths Versus Facts About Stroke

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Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association.

To learn more about stroke and to better understand how it is unique from heart attack, here are some common myths versus facts associated with stroke, according to Robert Felberg, MD, medical director of the stroke program at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ (as reported by Go Red For Women)

Myth: Strokes only happens to older people.

Stroke Fact: Strokes can happen in young people, including infants, even. Nearly a quarter of strokes occur in people younger than 65. Regardless of age, the warning signs of strokes are the same. It’s often the reaction that’s different, though. Young people are more likely to ignore the symptoms, because they think a stroke can’t happen at their age.

Myth: Strokes are typically difficult to recognize.

Fact:  “Three-quarters of the time, even a lay-person can diagnose a stroke very easily,” says Felberg. The test to use is called the Face, Arm, Speech, Time test, or FAST. If a person is experiencing facial droop, if his or her arm or leg goes weak, if he or she has slurred or garbled speech, get that person to the emergency room as quickly as possible. “The sooner you get to the emergency room, the sooner the person is going to get better,” says Felberg.

Myth: Women are protected from strokes.

Fact: Women actually suffer strokes more frequently than men, although Felberg points out that it’s not a significant amount more. “Men tend to get heart disease at an earlier age and pass away from their heart disease, while women live longer,” he says. “And because they live longer, they’re more exposed to strokes.”

Myth: You can treat a stroke at home by taking aspirin.

Fact: While taking an aspirin can be helpful when it comes to having a heart attack, that is not the case with a stroke. In fact, if you are experiencing a bleeding (called hemorrhagic) stroke, aspirin could potentially make the situation worse. The priority with a stroke is to get to the ER for treatment as quickly as possible.

Myth: There’s nothing you can do to prevent a stroke.

Fact: “There’s a lot you can do to prevent a stroke,” says Felberg. Managing your blood pressure, diabetes, taking cholesterol medications and seeking medical attention for any heart conditions or irregularities are all important and effective steps. Maintaining an appropriate weight and eating a heart-healthy diet also make a difference. “You can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke, as long as you are an active participant in your health care,” he says.

Myth: A stroke is a type of heart attack or a type of seizure.

Fact: “A stroke is a disease of the blood vessels of the brain that leads to brain damage,” says Felberg. Sometimes it’s a clog, other times it’s a rupture in a blood vessel, and it can present with seizures. And while stroke and heart disease are closely related, they’re not one in the same. Strokes revolve around the brain.

Myth: There are warning signs to a stroke.

Fact: You can have a stroke with no warning signs and no symptoms, other than the stroke itself. “The reason they call it a stroke is because it happens so suddenly. It happens over seconds to minutes,” says Felberg. While some people experience transient ischemic attack (TIA)—often referred to as a “mini stroke”—others are caught completely off-guard. “Don’t assume that just because you haven’t had any warning that this couldn’t be a stroke,” says Felberg.

Learn more about stroke from the American Stroke Association.

A Push To Get Older Adults In Better Shape For Surgery (KHN)

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A Push To Get Older Adults In Better Shape For Surgery (KHN)

Surgery can be hard on older adults, resulting in serious complications and death far more often than in younger patients. But many seniors aren’t adequately prepared for the risks they might face. Innovative hospitals such as Duke University Medical Center, the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center and Michigan Medicine are working to change that. In the weeks leading up to surgery, they prescribe exercise to seniors, make sure they’re eating healthy foods and try to minimize anxiety and stress, among other initiatives. Research suggests these interventions can enhance seniors’ readiness for surgery and potentially lead to improved outcomes. (Graham, 1/25)

Read entire article here.

Worried About Just Getting Through the Day? You May Have This

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People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.

Does the thought of just getting through the day make you anxious? If you persistently and excessively worry about all sorts of things, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

People with GAD have a difficult time controlling their worry. They may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

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