By Angie West, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, SCRN, ANVP, director, Stroke Center, MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute, Long Beach Memorial
What many people don’t understand about stroke is a stroke can happen to anyone, at any time. Stroke is the No. 5 killer in the United States. Learn the top five misconceptions that many people have about stroke – from what a stroke actually is to the types of reactions.
Misconception: Strokes only occurs in older adults.
The reality is that stroke doesn’t discriminate – anyone of any age, gender, race or ethnicity can be at risk for stroke.
Misconception: A stroke occurs when people don’t take care of their bodies and is the result of poor health.
A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain is blocked by a clot or ruptures — blood flow is cut off, brain tissue is starved for oxygen and part of the brain dies. A stroke doesn’t happen because of poor diet and lack of exercise, but having good dietary and exercise habits can help prevent stroke. Other ways to prevent stroke include maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.
Misconception: A stroke feels similar to having a heart attack.
Symptoms of a stroke don’t always cause pain like a heart attack – 90 percent of the time, there is no pain, and it’s easy for an individual to think what they’re experiencing is nothing, and will go away. Learn to recognize the signs of stroke with the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T.:
- B: Balance Lost
- E: Eyes Blur
- F: Face Drooping
- A: Arm Weakness
- S: Speech Difficulty
- T: Time to Call 9-1-1
Misconception: A stroke doesn’t require immediate medical care.
A stroke is a medical emergency. The more time that passes between when a stroke starts and when a person receives treatment increases the chances for brain function to be permanently lost. This is why when a stroke strikes, it’s critical that the person experiencing symptoms receives medical attention and an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible.
Misconceptions: People who experience stroke become disabled and can no longer function or live like they used to.
A stroke is a traumatic experience on the body, and can leave many people with loss of basic motor skills. With proper rehabilitation, many people who have suffered from a stroke can gain their motor skills back. While it may take time, many people can return to their everyday lives.