Stroke Awareness Month – Risk Factors

Standard

There are many factors that go into whether or not you will have a stroke. The following list of risk factors, increased risk factors, and additional risk factors comes directly from the CDC (the Center for Disease Control).​

  • Race/ethnicity. African Americans have almost two times the risk of white people of having a first stroke. Hispanic Americans and American Indian/Alaska Natives are at greater risk than whites are for having a stroke but are at less risk than African Americans. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to die after having a stroke.
  • Age. Stroke risk increases with age. Three-quarters of strokes occur in people ages 65 and older.
  • Geography. The highest U.S. death rates from stroke occur in the southeastern United States.
  • Gender. Men are more likely than women to have a stroke.

Certain lifestyle factors and conditions also increase the risk for stroke. The most important of these include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease (such as atrial fibrillation)
  • Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
  • Cigarette smoking

Additional risk factors include:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Overweight or obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Family history of stroke
  • Drug abuse
  • Genetic conditions, such as blood-clotting or vascular disorders (for example, Factor V Leiden or CADASIL)
  • Certain medications (such as hormonal birth control pills)
  • Being pregnant
  • Menopause

Lesser risk factors include:

  • Head and neck injuries
  • Recent viral or bacterial infections



    National Stroke Awareness Month

    Standard

    May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the National Institute of Health, 795,000 people in the US have strokes. Of those, 137,000 die. The vast majority are first strokes. Survivors will have another stroke within five years.

    In this first of four posts, the main thing I want to get out to you are the signs of a stroke. One easy way to remember is the word FAST, which stands for FACE, ARMS, SPEECH, TIME.

    How’s Your Health?

    Standard

    November is known as the time for employers to furnish their employees with the next year’s health insurance and other benefits plans. It comes and goes at a fast pace. We are often caught unawares, and it’s something we have to do proactively every year.

    My suggestion as we come upon the first of November is to take a health inventory. This would include what services and insurance benefits you used this past year, and what you expect to use next year so you can choose the best plan for you and your family without rushing around in the twenty-four hours of the very last day.

    Take your health inventory.

    Are you due for a tetanus shot? Any other missing vaccinations? Flu shot?

    Have you had your yearly physical?

    Is it time for a pap smear or mammogram? Prostate screening?

    Colonoscopy?

    How are your eyes? Do your glasses need updating? Do you need glasses?

    How’s your hearing? I just got hearing aids, and I’m still adjusting to them. It’s not like going from deaf to hearing, but it is quite an adjustment to the new sounds that I’m noticing – the rattles in the car, the water and heat through the pipes in my house, the tapping of the keyboard I’m using right now. (I honestly can’t believe how loud it is!)

    Take a medication inventory.

    Are all of your medications up to date? Are they still working the way they’re supposed to? It may be time to change some dosages.

    How’s your weight? Mine could do with some losing and increasing some exercise. On her TV talk show, Rosie O’Donnell used to say, “Eat less, move more.” Simple and yet really good advice that anyone can succeed at. Keep a food and exercise log. It’s not to guilt you into doing the right thing, but it’s good to see how far you advance from where you had started.

    How’s your blood pressure?

    Another simple, healthy choice is less salt and sugar. Less is more. Can’t go wrong with that. Smoke less, or stop completely. Drink in moderation.

    Laugh. And sing. It’s good for your heart. And your head.

    Take a mental health inventory/check-up.

    Any depression? Anxiety? If yes, mention it to your doctor. Don’t put it off and let it sneak up on you.

    Keep in contact with your doctor, and your health care administrator at work. Look at all of the available plans and compare them to what you have now. It’s not always better to take the cheapest plan, and by the same token it’s not always better to take the more expensive plan. Know your needs, and choose based on that.

    Are you eligible for the Affordable Care Act? Medicare? Medicaid?
    Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019!

    Stroke Awareness Month

    Standard

    In 2013, at age 43, actor and musician Rob Benedict suffered a stroke at a fan convention in Toronto, Ontario. Thanks to the quck thinking of his Supernatural co-stars, Richard Speight, Jr., and Misha Collins, he was given medical help and is now doing very well, back to touring with Louden Swain, writing scripts and songs, and performing at Supernatural fan conventions across the world.

    He has brought attention to the symptoms of stroke since then.

    The acronym to remember is FAST:

    Click picture to be taken to Stroke.org’s website. Their copyright. (c)2018

    Get the word out

    Click picture to be taken to the National Stroke Association.

    33/52 – Jimmy Kimmel

    Standard

    To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jimmy Kimmel. He’s funny and he tells intelligent jokes. He’s good at political humor, and satire. He can also be biting. I think it was a chance watching of one of his early works on Comedy Central: The Man Show. It was…not my cup of tea to put it mildly.

    However, last week and the weeks previous back to when he talked about the birth of his baby son, Billy had me catching up with his monologue, at least on YouTube.

    People, politicians mostly, got upset with him for moving out of his lane, comedy, forgetting that before he was a comedian he was a person. And as any parent knows, or should know, once you have kids, your parenthood comes first.

    He spoke what was on his mind, made his priorities known, and most people agreed with him.

    Then, they came for him.

    The hypocrites.

    And he did not crawl away, hurt, insulted, fearful of what his ratings might turn to, but he came back stronger, and he came back stronger because he had the truth on his side.

    He spoke the truth.

    He let his heart sit on his sleeve, and talked about what his family was going through, and reminded the hypocritical politicians that his isn’t the only family going through this scary time. They’re not even the only family with health insurance, but there are many more who don’t have adequate health insurance or any health insurance at all.

    In fact, if you follow the news, you’ll have read, between the President’s golf game and berating the hard-working Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Congress ignored a key deadline and failed to reauthorize the CHIP, the children’s health care plan that has helped millions of children. Today, they wake up with no health insurance. What are they supposed to do?

    No, Jimmy Kimmel isn’t an expert on health care, but he is an expert on what health insurance and health care provides for his family; for his children, andhe has every right in the world to speak about it, and if that shames Congress, well, they should be ashamed.

    Here are some links to the CHP information in addition to more information about Jimmy Kimmel.

    Jimmy Kimmel is just a person, just as we all are. There is something we can all do, but first we have to stand up.

    Jimmy Kimmel
    Official YouTube Channel
    The Anger of Jimmy Kimmel (from The Atlantic)

    The Washington Post article on the failure of Congress to reauthorize CHIP

    Domestic Violence Should Not Be Politics as Usual

    Standard

    ​Sunday will be the sixth anniversary of my friend’s death. She was murdered by her ex while simply living her own life, washing a tea kettle out when he came up behind her and ended her life. For all of us who are touched by domestic violence and abuse, we ask if there was something we could have done, something we should have been aware of. I participated in my own share of victim blaming until I saw the larger picture of having your finances and only home tied up with someone who is threatening. 

    I think we all like to believe the best of people, and if we’re wrong, we just pick up and walk away. Everyone has friends they can rely on, but how true is that really? Can a mom, the mom who seems to have all the problems, is never on time, offering flimsy excuses with the two kids, both in diapers – can she crash on your sofa or spare room indefinitely? Are you friends with her domestic partner? Who will you believe?

    Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it takes on a variety of forms. Some, though not many, don’t realize they’re abusive; it’s the way they were raised, and they think it’s “normal” to slap your wife and kids or grab her or slam doors and drink a little too much. Others seem like the perfect couple, family, etc, and no one knows what’s going on inside someone else’s home?

    For B, my friend, when she had nowhere to live, she arranged to live in her house. Her house, that she paid for, contributed to the down payment of, was responsible on the deed for, but also on the property where her ex lived. I thought that was crazy. However, what else could she do?

    He threatened her, but people say things they don’t mean all the time.

    Why didn’t she call the police? Well, she did, several times. In fact, the police paid a visit to their house the night before she was murdered. They didn’t believe there was a problem; not a real one. Don’t set him off, though.

    I didn’t understand.

    Now, in Congress, in the House of Representatives yesterday, a bill was passed that will now go on to the Senate to be voted on. If it passes the Senate, I have no doubt that President Trump will sign it. He signs whatever he’s told to.

    This new bill, that might become a law, which by the way also exempts members of Congress from its new rules and changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as affecting private insurance and employer insurance along with Medicaid and Medicare, defines pre-existing conditions in horrific ways and will affect someone you know.

    They say that pre-exisiting conditions will be covered, but that depends on the state you’re in, and legal access to health care doesn’t mean that everyone will have it or be able to afford it.

    For example, four of the pre-existing conditions mentioned specifically are: domestic violence, sexual assault, c-section, and post-partum depression. What do these four things have in common? In addition to being completely and arbitrarily unpredictable and randomly occuring, they also only happen to women. The first two – domestic violence and sexual assault – are perpetuated by men onto women, but as is the case in many instances, women pay the brunt of the violence against them.

    This is one of the most blatant and disgusting and obvious moments of victim-blaming.

    They’re looking at getting rid of well visits and preventative care, maternity leave, and pre-natal care as well.

    I’m appalled.

    In today’s Congress, had my friend survived her gunshot to the head she would be blamed for it as a victim of domestic violence. It would be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered under the Republican’s repeal and regress health care plan.

    They’ve had eight years to come up with something, and they’ve failed. However, they continue to punish women for their failure.

    Do not let this Republican controlled Congress and White House continue to abuse women and their families.

    If you or someone you know are in danger or in a domestic abuse relationship or situation, contact the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They can help you and find resources for you wherever you are.

    If you or someone you know are an LGBT+ youth and in an abusive situation, contact The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. They can put you in touch with someone who can help you.

    You are not alone.