May is Stroke Awareness Month!
Guess what time it is, ya’ll? That’s right, it’s time for another edition of the awareness blog! I know you’ve all been waiting anxiously and refreshing the feed every hour, on the hour, since the last one. Nothing more exciting than learning about illnesses and diseases, I know.
Today’s blog will discuss Strokes, because guess what… there’s a lot you need to know about them in order to prevent them or recognize them. But first, I gotta give you my schpiel at the beginning of each blog (feel free to skip to the good part if you already know our deal) until people get the hang of our blog and our business.
Personalized Cause is an awareness ribbon company that specializes in custom awareness ribbons. We are the #1 source for personalized awareness pins in the United States, for personal orders (rather than bulk orders). We carry an assortment of other awareness ribbons and awareness wristbands. We decided to start this blog in order to raise awareness for all of the causes out there. Obviously, we know we probably won’t get to all of them, as there are more causes in the world than we could possibly cover. We hope to cover as many of the big ones as possible, though, in order to raise awareness, educate the public, and help to prevent any disease, illness, or event that we can. Our goal is to make all of our readers into advocates, and socially aware people, who just might pass that knowledge onto someone who needs it. We’re trying to do a pay it forward thing with medical and social knowledge. We’d like to save the world, but we know that task is more than we can achieve, so we’re doing the next best thing within our scope. We are empowering you all to go forth with what you learn here and make a difference where you can with the information we give you.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it! (People skipping our little intro, start reading here.)
Stroke is a terrible, awful, no good disease. If you’re thinking, a stroke isn’t a disease, you’re not alone there. Most people think of it as an event, like a heart attack, more than a disease. It is in fact classified as a disease, though.
So what exactly is a stroke? We’ve all heard of them, but we may not know exactly what they are, aside from the fact that they are bad. A stroke affects the brain. They occur when blood vessels or arteries in the brain become blocked or clogged by a clot, or when the blood vessel ruptures as a result. When a blood vessel (or artery, from now on when I refer to blood vessel, that includes arteries) becomes clogged or blocked by blood clot, pressure builds behind the clog. The body continues to pump the blood, causing the pressure behind it to build and build. That pressure eventually becomes strong enough to force through the wall of the blood vessel. Whether the clot causes a rupture of the blood vessel, or is simply blocking off the blood flow, it causes the brain to stop receiving oxygen and nutrients through that pathway. When the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the brain cells begin to die. As a result, brain damage occurs, and permanent damage can be done. This is the reason that Stroke is the #5 cause of death in the United States, and one of the top causes of disability. Every 40 seconds that pass, somebody has a stroke, and every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. If you think it can’t happen to you, think again, because they can happen to anyone, and at any age, and that includes during childhood. But, here comes an important point… as much as 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, and the severity of the damage that is caused by a stroke can be dramatically reduced if the warning signs are recognized and the person gets treatment immediately.
Not all strokes are the same. There are hemorrhagic strokes and ischemic strokes. Lets take a closer look at each of them, shall we.
First up, hemorrhagic strokes are when a blood clot (also known as an aneurysm) bursts, or causes a leak. Think of a pipe. If a blockage occurs in a pipe, one of two things will happen. Either the pipe will completely burst, or the pipe will slowly leak. In both scenarios, you’re looking at a serious problem that requires professional attention immediately, in order to minimize the amount of damage done. The buildup of pressure from the excess blood in the brain (from the burst or leak) results in swelling and pressure in the brain. When swelling or pressure build up in the brain, it damages the cells and brain tissue. Only about 15% of strokes that occur are hemorrhagic, however, they account for around 40 percent of deaths caused by a stroke. They’re less common, but they’re more dangerous.
Now, there are two kinds of hemorrhagic stroke, and they are called intracerebral and subarachnoid. The first and most common kind of hemorrhagic stroke is intracerebral hemorrhage. This kind of stroke is most commonly caused by high blood pressure and weakened blood vessels due to age, but it can also occur due to a genetic condition that causes an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain or spine. This condition is called AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, and can be treated. Intracerebral hemorrhage is when the blood leaks or pools in the brain, causing cell death and the affected area of the brain stops working. The second kind of hemorrhagic stroke is the subarachnoid stroke. This occurs in the area between the actual brain itself, and the tissue that covers the brain. It is most commonly caused by an aneurysm that bursts.
Next up, the ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when the affected blood vessel is blocked. The blood clot that creates the blockage prevents blood from travelling to where it needs to go in the brain. When the blood is prevented from reaching parts of the brain, the cells die. Ischemic strokes account for the vast majority of all strokes. Again, blood pressure is the biggest cause of this type of stroke. These types of stroke can happen in two ways, called embolic and thrombotic. An embolic stroke is when either a blood clot or plaque build up forms in the body somewhere else, but usually in the heart, and then makes it’s way through the blood vessels into the brain. Because the blood vessels go from large (in the heart) and get smaller and smaller as they move into the brain, the clot or plaque buildup eventually reaches a point where it gets stuck and cant move any further, and causes an ischemic stroke. A thrombotic stroke occurs when the blood clot develops inside one of the arteries leading to the brain. Thrombotic strokes are usually caused by high cholesterol or atherosclerosis.
Okay, now that you understand exactly how they work and the differences in kinds of stroke, lets look at the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke. Remember, especially parents, a blood clot can be formed from a run of the mill injury, so it’s important to be able to recognize the signs in children, too.
There is a trick to being able to remember what symptoms to look for to identify a stroke. It’s called “act FAST.” A lot of people panic in emergency situations and don’t remember what they’ve learned, so this trick helps people remember what to check for. If you identify these symptoms, call 911 immediately! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just get an ambulance there as fast as possible. The faster medical attention is received, the better the outcome will be.
F- F stands for face. Is the person experiencing facial drooping? Ask them to smile to assess.
A- A stands for arms. Have the person raise both arms out in front of them. Are they able to keep both arms level?
S- S stands for speech. Ask the person to repeat a sentence or phrase to you. Do they sound strange or are they slurring?
T- T stands for time, as in there is none to waste. So, if the person is exhibiting any of the symptoms above… call 911, as fast as humanly possible.
It is also important to write down what time the first symptom or signs appeared. Think back on the day, did the person experience any unusual muscle weakness, or perhaps fall? Try to remember if anything unusual happened, even if it didn’t seem like a big deal. Write it on your arm, text it to yourself, repeat it to yourself over and over like a mantra until the paramedics arrive. The timing can determine some treatment options and decisions.
That’s all she wrote. (I hope at least one of you laughed at that total dad joke.) Thank you for reading and I sincerely hope none of you ever need to use the information we discussed today. Better safe than sorry, though, am I right?!
There are two versions of awareness pins for stroke. Red awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for stroke, but there is a special pin designed to raise awareness for childhood stroke (or pediatric stroke.) Purple and blue awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for pediatric stroke.
Here are links to both of the custom awareness pins. For custom awareness pins for stroke (the red awareness ribbon), visit:
For custom awareness pins for pediatric stroke (the purple and blue awareness ribbon), visit:
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