It’s the talk we all hate to have.  We wish that it didn’t have to occur.  But it can’t to be taught in school.  Its better coming from a loved one.  The Dreaded S-talk.  Not Sex (that can be covered in the classroom and by the internet).  I’m talking about the Stroke talk.

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by the interruption of flow of blood to the brain (ischemic) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic). The interruption of blood flow or the rupture of blood vessels causes brain cells in the affected area to die.  Your brain is the most complex organ in your body. It consists of more than 100 billion specialized nerve cells called neurons and it acts as a command centre for everything you do, think, sense and say.  These neurons cannot regrow themselves, so once they die, they are gone forever.

The five principle warning signs of a stroke are: Weakness; Trouble Speaking; Vision problems; Headache; and Dizziness.   A number of risk factors exist for strokes. You can’t control your family history, gender, ethnicity or age (and unfortunately, lying about your age doesn’t reduce your risk) . But luckily, you can do something about other factors that could increase your risk of having a stroke, including obesity, diet, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.  Diet and exercise can have a positive effect on our weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Being  aware of the symptoms above and getting help right away may reduce negative outcomes from a stroke.

In the last few years, important new advances have been made in stroke treatment.  However, these new treatments must be started within a few hours of the onset of symptoms in order to be effective. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the warning signs of a stroke as soon as they appear and call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number for immediate medical assistance. Take care of yourselves and each other.