This May, we're joining the American Stroke Association in recognizing American Stroke Month. As the fellows have learned over the past 8 months, knowledge is key in preventing, recognizing, and recovering from stroke. Today, we're reflecting on what we've learned and chiming in with four things we think everyone should understand about stroke. We're sharing this information with our family, friends and networks with the hope that you will, too. Together, we can save lives.
From Stephanie: "80% of strokes are preventable. Knowing if you're at risk for stroke or how at risk you are isn't always easy. Hypertension, for instance, is a "silent killer" in that the vast majority of people with hyptertension are unaware that their blood pressure is too high. Understanding your risk factors (which also include diabetes, high cholesterol, and others) is only the first step; translating that knowledge into behavior and lifestyle change is an undoubtedly more difficult second step. Lean on available resources for healthy eating, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and blood pressure monitoring (like MedStar Healthy, for example). Visit your primary care physician consistently, try new things, and stay self-motivated so we can get that 80% down!"
From Mike: "Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is critical, but it's equally important to immediately call emergency medical services if you suspect yourself or someone around you may be experiencing a stroke. The outcome of stroke treatment is VERY time sensitive. To steal a line from the Department of Homeland Security, if you see something (or feel something), say something!"
From Katia: "Emotional support along the path to recovery is so important. Recovering from stroke can be, at times, an overwhelming journey, and stroke survivors can experience a lot of stress navigating this winding path. Knowing where to look for support in addition to that of family and friends can be a great source of respite and can help take some of the burden off of a family's shoulders. Local community support groups or non-profit organizations can be helpful resources and can help sustain the motivation needed to persevere throughout the recovery process."
From King: "Caregiver wellbeing is often overlooked not just in stroke management but in other chronic diseases. For stroke in particular, educating and providing ongoing support for caregivers after hospital discharge can make a huge difference physically, emotionally, and mentally for both the survivor and caregiver. Many caregivers look for ways to optimize recovery, often seeking advice from members of online support groups, though there's always more we could be doing to connect them to resources that align with their needs."