Your brain is a command center issuing commands to the army (your body). Imagine that some terrorists blew out one room, maybe three, with a grenade. Now imagine those “terrorists” are the blood clot. The “grenade” is the damage done by the blood clot to your host of neuron cells. No one has an answer to your questions about your stroke. No one. Except you do.
Here’s the truth behind some of the most common stroke myths. (Except they may change in the circumstance of facts.)
MYTH: Strokes only happen to elderly people.
FACT: “It’s true that as we get older, our risk for stroke goes up,” says Eric Bershad, MD, a neurointensivist with St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and a vascular neurologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
However, babies, children, teenagers, young adults, and middle-aged people can have a stroke just by being pregnant, obese, having high blood pressure, being in a car accident, having genetic transgressors, or, nothing at all.
MYTH: Strokes are rare.
FACT: Stroke statistics reveal that strokes are quite common. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 6 million Americans have had a stroke. “..and stroke is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.,” Bershad says.
MYTH: A stroke takes place in the heart.
FACT: “A stroke takes place in the brain,” Dr. Igor Rybinnik, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, NY, explains. “The nervous cells in the brain, called neurons, require blood flow and the nutrients and oxygen in blood to survive and function. If the blood supply to the neurons in the brain is cut off either because of a blood clot or a disease of the blood vessels, those neurons die. That’s what a stroke is.”
4. MYTH: Strokes aren’t preventable.
FACT: “The notion that strokes can’t be prevented is a giant myth,” Rybinnik says. “One of the biggest studies on stroke, called the International Stroke Study, examined risk factors and found that 90 percent of strokes can be attributed to vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity — and all of which are preventable to a large extent.”
MYTH: Strokes can’t be treated.
FACT: The vast majority of strokes are ischemic, which are caused by a clot, and they can be treated. “If a person comes in within 4 and a half hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, we can give a clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator that may prevent or possibly reverse damage that would’ve been done by the stroke,” Rybinnik says.
By the way, rehab equipment such as AlonTree products may help your affected body, and speech therapy may give way to eloquence in written and spoken language.
MYTH: The most common sign of a stroke is pain.
FACT: “Only about 30 percent of people will have a headache with ischemic stroke, so pain isn’t a reliable symptom,” Bershad says. The most common symptoms of stroke include sudden onset of numbness or weakness on one side, double vision, confusion, lack of coordination, and trouble understanding what someone is saying. “If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately,” he says. “People with stroke symptoms are treated more promptly in the emergency room when they arrive by ambulance.”
MYTH: Strokes aren’t hereditary.
FACT: “Strokes do run in families,” Rybinnik says. “The vascular risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, all have a genetic component. And the more rare causes of stroke in younger people, such as cardiac tumors, clotting disorders, and abnormalities with blood vessels, can also be passed down from generation to generation.”
MYTH: If stroke symptoms pass, you don’t need treatment.
FACT: “When someone has temporary symptoms of stroke, called a transient ischemic attack or TIA, it’s also a medical emergency,” Bershad says. The difference between TIA and stroke is that the blood vessel that was blocked during a TIA opens before it causes permanent damage. However, someone who’s had a TIA has a high chance of having a stroke within a week. “It’s very important to seek medical attention for any stroke-like symptoms, even if they pass,” Bershad stresses.
MYTH: Smoking doesn’t affect your chances of having a stroke.
FACT: “Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke, especially in younger people,” Bershad says. “This is true for both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, as well as first-time and recurrent strokes.”
MYTH: Stroke recovery only happens in the first few months after a stroke.
FACT: Wrong, again. Stroke recovery is a continuous process. Your brain, your body and your speaking may take decades to work the affects out.