Strokes: Symptoms and Treatment Innovations
In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Often referred to as a “brain attack,” a stroke is caused by injury to a blood vessel that limits the flow of blood to the brain.1 The causes include some of the same ones that cause a heart attack, including high blood pressure, smoking, being overweight and having diabetes.2
In addition, women who began having periods before age 12, experienced a stillbirth, went through menopause before age 47 or have had a hysterectomy are at higher risk of stroke.3
It’s interesting that although the underlying causes of some of our most serious medical conditions, such as strokes, are well known, some of us don’t always pay enough attention. The same could be said for our attitude toward insurance coverage. Intellectually, we may know the ramifications of not having it, but some of us do not seek insurance beyond what we’re required to have — auto insurance to drive a car or home insurance to take out a mortgage. Some employers automatically cover workers with a limited life insurance policy, but for many people, that isn’t nearly enough.
Insurance is one of those topics, like a stroke or heart attack, for which we should take action to help protect ourselves and our family before a crisis situation. They also are correlated because a disabling or fatal medical condition can leave loved ones struggling financially. Please give us a call if you’d like to discuss your current insurance needs and create a strategy should the worst-case scenario strike unexpectedly.
Here’s important information to know about strokes. There are three common warning signs of an impending stroke, and they may occur in combination: One side of the face droops, one arm won’t fully lift and speech becomes slurred. These telltale symptoms occur in 75 percent of all strokes. These symptoms can come and go quickly, but they should not be ignored. Time is the most critical factor with a stroke, so if any of those symptoms are present, call for emergency services right away.4
Because time is so important, hospitals have been working on ways to improve how quickly stroke patients receive treatment. In Northern California, for example, hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente network have developed a program (Stroke EXPRESS: Expediting the Process of Evaluating and Stopping Stroke) that uses telemedicine carts to improve the time between when a patient is seen and when he or she receives clot-busting medication.5
Likewise, a hospital system in Alaska has introduced “telestroke,” which connects patients to a vascular neurologist via two-way audio and video technology to help assess the immediate situation and determine next steps.6
And finally, another bit of innovation is happening for stroke patients who are among the about 50 percent of survivors who are left with severely restricted movement in one hand. A new machine sends signals to the brain, triggering movement via a robotic exoskeleton that is attached to a paralyzed hand.7
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Harvard Medical School. June 2017. “Recognizing the most common warning signs of a stroke.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/recognizing-the-most-common-warning-signs-of-a-stroke. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
2 WebMD. Nov. 3, 2017. “Top causes of stroke.” https://www.webmd.com/stroke/guide/stroke-causes-risks#1. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
3 Sarah Knapton. The Telegraph. Jan. 15, 2018. “Early menopause raises risk of heart disease and stroke, study suggests.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/01/15/early-menopause-raises-risk-heart-disease-stroke-study-suggests/. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
4 Harvard Medical School. June 2017. “Recognizing the most common warning signs of a stroke.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/recognizing-the-most-common-warning-signs-of-a-stroke. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
5 Eric Wicklund. mHealthIntelligence.com. Dec. 18, 2017. “Kaiser Study Gives Telemedicine High Marks in Stroke Treatment.” https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/kaiser-study-gives-telemedicine-high-marks-in-stroke-treatment. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
6 Daily News-Miner. Dec. 19, 2017. “New telemedicine program gets fast help to Fairbanks stroke victims.” http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/new-telemedicine-program-gets-fast-help-to-fairbanks-stroke-victims/article_14d27cce-e496-11e7-a065-0f4a05510fd2.html. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
7 Harry Pettit. Daily Mail. Jan. 15, 2018. “Incredible mind-reading device could help stroke patients regain the use of their hands by strengthening the neurons in their brain.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5270797/Incredible-mind-reading-device-help-stroke-patients.html#ixzz54NA2C8uQ. Accessed Jan. 15, 2018.
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