May is American Stroke Month. The recent deaths of beloved filmmaker John Singleton, aged 51 and actor Luke Perry, aged 52, serve as a sad reminder of why awareness of stroke warning signs is so vital. It’s also important to have a response plan for what to do if a stroke is suspected.
Generally, we tend to think of stroke as a medical condition affecting the elderly – and while stroke risk does increase in older years, the reality is that people of any age can suffer a stroke. In fact, health authorities say that the stroke risk for younger people is climbing.
“The deaths of Perry and Singleton underscore the fact that strokes are becoming more common among middle-aged adults. Between 2003 and 2012, the odds of being admitted to a hospital following an ischemic stroke — the most common type of stroke — increased 35.6% among U.S. residents ages 35 to 44. For those 45 to 54, the odds increased 20.5% over the same period, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.”
It’s important to learn stroke symptoms and act immediately, because with rapid treatment, stroke damage can be limited and the person can have a better chance of recovery. Experts say to think FAST: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, and Take action, time is vital. The symptoms are ones that we might identify as a stroke in the elderly, but we might not be looking for such symptoms in people who are young or middle-aged. In younger people, these and other common stroke symptoms might be misattributed to intoxication or drug use.
Limit your risk
Here’s some good news: an estimated 80% of strokes in the US are considered preventable. There are two primary types of risk factors for stroke:
Uncontrollable factors, such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, family history, a prior stroke and certain health conditions.
Modifiable factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a diet high in saturated fats, physical inactivity and obesity.
This video depicts an elderly person who is having stroke symptoms and what happens afterwards. It’s well done. Save a life by having a better understanding of stroke and by knowing what signs and symptoms to look for.
We tend to think of the flu as a winter illness, but October is the start of flu season in the United States, continuing on through May and generally peaking in January or February. It’s not too early to think about getting your flu shot now, and if you need a good reason, the Chicago Tribune reports on some news about the toll of last year’s flu season:
“More than 80,000 people died from the flu last season in the United States, according to early estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it’s far lower than the almost 700,000 people who died in the U.S. during the so-called Spanish flu pandemic that hit worldwide 100 years ago, last season was a “record-breaking” death toll, the highest since at least the late 1970s, according to the CDC.
The flu deaths last season were nearly 10,000 higher than the estimated number who died from drug overdoses and almost double the number of those estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 900,000 plus were hospitalized, the public health agency said. In Illinois, more than 2,300 were admitted to intensive care units for flu-related illness.”
Apparently, that isn’t evidence enough to convince people to get vaccinated – less than half of the population gets a shot each year. If you are a flu shot skeptic, the Harvard Medical School shoots down 10 common flu myths – check out the article to get the facts.
Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.
Myth: Healthy people don’t need to be vaccinated.
Myth: Getting the flu vaccination is all you need to do to protect yourself from the flu.
Myth: The flu is just a bad cold.
Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you’re feeling well.
Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
Myth: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat, with wet hair or by sitting near a drafty window.
Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever.
Myth: Chicken soup will speed your recovery from the flu.
Myth: If you have a high fever with the flu that lasts more than a day or two, antibiotics may be necessary.
Today, there’s no excuse – it’s pretty easy to get a flu shot on the fly, you don’t even need to make a doctor’s appointment. You can get a flu shot at most major pharmacies and drug stores. If you’re unsure where to get a shot, check the vaccine finder. Here are some tips for getting free or cheap flu shots.
Now that the New England drought is under control, tick numbers are on the rise, with experts projecting that 2017 will be especially bad for Lyme-disease ticks. Great. And as if regular old ticks aren’t bad enough, the Lone Star tick can trigger a red meat allergy in humans. These ticks were primarily found in the southwest – named after the Lone Star state of Texas – but in recent years, they have been moving north. They are an aggressive species that targets humans and pets and a single bite can trigger a lifelong allergy to meat.
According to Popular Science, “Rising temperatures have turned previously inhospitable northern states like New Hampshire and Minnesota into tick-friendly zones. And now, folks in those regions have started reporting cases of alpha-gal syndrome.” They offer more information about the dread Lone Star tick, the allergy, and other nasty diseases that it can carry.
Every year, almost three-quarters of a million people have a heart attack – that’s about one every 43 seconds. About two-thirds of those attacks are first time episodes, and about a third are repeat occurrence. And one thing many people don’t know – about 1 of 5 heart attacks is silent. Damage occurs, but the person is not aware that the attack occurred.
The best thing that we can all do is to know common signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that we can get immediate help from 911 either for ourselves or for anyone around us suspected of heart failure. Time is of the essence and can be life-saving. The American Heart Association suggest that you should become familiar with where your closest area hospital with 24-hour cardiac emergency care is located and keep emergency phone numbers on your mobile phone and near your home phone.
Heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease but that is far from the truth – heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., causing about 1 in every 4 deaths for both men and women.
However, men’s and women’s symptoms can sometimes differ.
The Zika virus has been much in the news as public health concern, but unless you were traveling internationally, there is a good chance you didn’t pay too much attention. But now that some “homegrown” cases were identified in Miami recently, many folks are wondering if they should be concerned.
Because the virus can have devastating consequences for a fetus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to avoid traveling to the area, and for pregnant women who live and work there to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites and to get tested for possible exposure during each prenatal visit. It also advised women to use protection during sex, because the virus can be transmitted sexually.
Furthermore, the CDC is advising that all pregnant women should be asked about travel to Zika-infested areas during routine prenatal visits. Any pregnant women who have traveled to Zika areas — including this area of Florida on or after June 15 — are advised to talk with their healthcare providers and get tested for Zika.