Friday, January 29, 2010

Here's a F.A.S.T. video

The word is F.A.S.T.: Face, Arm, Speech, Time

That is, as explained by the National Stroke Association:

F = Face
• Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = Arms
• Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech
• Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can the person repeat the sentence correctly?

T = Time
• If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.

Awareness of the signs and symptoms of a stroke are key to saving a life - yours or someone else's.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It could happen to anyone

The last few postings all related to stroke prevention. The next several will talk about stroke awareness - what to do, but as important, how to tell when it's time to act.

This video makes an important point: A stroke can happen to anyone. So even if you're not surrounded by old men in poor health - the stereotypical stroke patient - you should still be aware of stroke signs and symptoms.

More on those with the next post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This just in: Smoking kills

The last few entries for this blog touched on stroke prevention, with special attention to stroke risk that, to some degree or other, people can control.

The final entry - for now, anyway - on this topic is the one other entries about smoking as well.
that raises my hackles the most: smoking. You can read

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.

That's how many lives are needlessly cut short by smoking. Comparing smokers and nonsmokers, the CDC reports that stroke risk is 2 to 4 times higher among smokers.

I must admit a selfish reason: In 1992, my father died because, years before, he smoked. That led to emphysema which led to a host of other health problems. His last few years, this decent, loving man was tethered to an oxygen machine and a scooter.

All because, when the dangers of tobacco were well hidden, he lit that first cigarette.

Don't light it. Do anything you can do to prevent anyone you care about to light it.

It's currently popular to argue that there's no good or bad, no right or wrong - it's all relative. That's bogus. Pure plain and simple: Given what we now know, smoking is wrong.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

If every tobacco company on the planet went out of business tomorrow, it would not be soon enough.

A smoke is not worth a stroke.

(Image from the Coconino County (Ariz.) Health Department)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Watch that blood pressure

If you've read this blog before, high blood pressure is not new news.

It's a key, if not the key factor in stroke causes and stroke prevention. If you have high blood pressure, you're probably high risk for a stroke. Control it - with the the help of your doctor - and you risk could be reduced.

From a short article on WebMD:

People who have high blood pressure are 4 to 6 times more likely to have a stroke. Over time, hypertension leads to atherosclerosis and hardening of the large arteries. This, in turn, leads to blockage and weakening of the walls of small blood vessels in the brain, causing them to balloon and burst. The risk of stroke is directly related to how high the blood pressure is.

And check out this article, with good tips for those trying to control high blood pressure:

You don't always need prescription medications to lower your blood pressure. By making these 10 lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

But if needed, you've got to swallow those pills - get your doctor involved. And listen.

(Image from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Monday, January 11, 2010

It messes up your schedule, but worth it

I admit it - skipping breakfast is an inconvenience. It messes with my schedule for work and I'm grouchy without it.

Why miss breakfast? For an occasional blood draw to test your cholesterol level after fasting.

And why care? Because, according to the National Stroke Association: "Cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can block normal blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. High cholesterol may also increase the risk of heart disease, a risk factor for stroke."

The association's Web site offers some information on the relation of stroke risk reduction and high cholesterol:

Things you can change:
  • Diet -- Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol can increase cholesterol levels.
  • Weight -- Being overweight can increase your cholesterol levels.
  • Exercise -- People who are not active tend to have higher cholesterol levels.
Things you cannot change:
  • Family History -- If someone in your family has high cholesterol, you are more likely to have high cholesterol.
  • Age -- Most people experience an increase in cholesterol levels until about the age of 65.
  • Gender -- Women under age 50 tend to have lower cholesterol and those in menopause have higher levels.
So get that number checked. Skip breakfast just one or two days a year. If the numbers aren't right, follow your doctor's advice. Take medicine prescribed. Exercise. Watch your weight and diet.

It could save your life.

(Photo from the U.S. Office on Women's Health)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Weighing in on weight

Second of five stroke prevention factors: weight.

Weight control are two easy words to type but two very difficult words to follow. Still, being overweight is a documented, well-known stroke risk factor.

Indeed, weight is a factor that adds to other factors. Says the Web site: "Being overweight contributes to other risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

People have devoted blogs, books and businesses about weight loss - and this single note won't give you every possible way to do it. The CDC offers some resources. has lots of links. Weight Watchers is a company that has helped people gain weight control for decades. Now, thousands of Americans have gastric bypass surgery.

Controlling weight isn't fun or easy. But it can save your life or the life of someone you love.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

In 2010, exercise could save your life

This year, Stroke of Faith will offer a series of common-sense-approach entries about stroke prevention, awareness and myths.

First, some stroke prevention ideas.

One tool of prevention is exercise. You don't have to run a marathon or bicycle across the country to help prevent a stroke. Instead, here's some good advice from the National Stroke Association:

A brisk walk for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways, and may reduce your risk for stroke.

Try walking with a friend; this will make it more likely that you'll make it a habit.

If you don't enjoy walking, choose another exercise or activity that you do enjoy, such as biking, swimming, golf, tennis, dance, or aerobics.

Make time each day to take care of yourself by exercising.

And as always, especially if you haven't exercised recently, check with your doctor before you start. If you're looking for something more indoors, check out the offerings available through a Nintendo Wii and the accessory Wii Fit.

As a long-distance runner for years - pre-stroke and post-stroke - I'm convinced that my fitness level helped me survive. From the Stanford Stroke Center: "Experts recommend at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week in order to achieve and maintain an improved level of fitness."

The time is a great investment - maybe even an investment in your survival.

(Photo from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Now, a 'don't fall for this' warning

One of my standard Google alerts found a link - which I won't share - that purportedly offered a medication called Aggrenox without a prescription.

That's one of the drugs - similar to Plavix - that is a potential stroke prevention tool. I was on Plavix for years and on Aggrenox for a short time before the heart procedure took me off prescription drugs entirely.

But criminal Web sites and e-mails offering potentially dangerous drugs sans prescription abound. They prey on people who need actual medical attention.

You shouldn't self-prescribe drugs like Aggrenox or Plavix. Ever.

Friday, January 01, 2010

As this new year comes forth...

"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

"See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
2010 is here. So look forward and make your way with God.

Dwelling on the past and those "former things" is so easy. Mistakes. Shame. Missed opportunities. Bad decisions. Failure to act. How often does it seem that life is too hard, that we can't possibly get past what has happened?

God pledges, though, that with him, we can move past the past and be secure in his pledge.

Thank God that we can move past these "former things." Watch and perceive what God plans for you in 2010. It is a new year, and God constantly opens up new ways.

Have a blessed, joyous new year.