Stroke Awareness Month: Strokes Are Preventable and Treatable
The 5th Leading Cause of American Deaths
Did you know that stroke is a leading cause of death in America? 795,000 people suffer from strokes yearly. Further, strokes account for 1 in every 20 deaths that occur in America. This means that 140,000 people die of strokes every year.
This is pretty unfortunate data considering that strokes are both preventable and treatable.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. This makes it an excellent opportunity to cover some of the basics of what a stroke is. Hopefully, covering these basics will make it easier to recognize the symptoms of strokes in ourselves and others. In fact, doing so can literally mean the difference between recovery and suffering from death or disability.
First, we should talk a bit about what happens to our body during a stroke. Occasionally, the blood supplying our brain can be either reduced or interrupted. When this interruption happens, our brain goes without necessary oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, brain cells quickly begin to die. This is what is happening when a stroke occurs.
Strokes are very serious because they are life-threatening. Every second becomes critical once someone has had a stroke. This is because strokes require fast action in order to
mitigate their impact.
Substance Abuse and Stroke
Any age of person can have a stroke, though they tend to become more common the older individuals become. However, for young adults that have strokes, recreational drug use often plays a troubling role.
Many drugs have been associated with the occurrence of strokes, especially amphetamines and cocaine. Other implicated drugs include ecstasy, heroin, PCP, LSD and marijuana, though a clear association between these drugs and strokes is less strong.
This does not mean that users of these drugs are safe.
The truth is that those between the ages of 15-44 that also abuse drugs are 6.5 times likelier to have strokes than non-users. This is a very harrowing statistic that underlines the risk those suffering from addiction face.
Cocaine users are at an especially high risk for hemorrhagic strokes. This is true whether they have hypertension or not. Strokes become more likely because cocaine use raises one’s blood pressure.
Meanwhile, the use of amphetamines—including meth—makes users 4 times likelier to suffer from a stroke. This is also due in part to the rise in blood pressure from usage. Ecstasy is a type of amphetamine, though more associated with its hallucinogenic effects.
This underscores the dangers of recreational drug use. Luckily, those suffering from addiction do have options. Help awaits. Those that use drugs should utilize the many non-judgmental professionals eager to make sure they do not need to face the battle of drug addiction alone.
What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
Here are some of the symptoms of a stroke:
- Difficulty speaking and understanding
- Paralysis of the face, arm or leg
- Blurred or blackened vision
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance
When you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, it is extremely important to seek emergency medical help as soon as possible.
Do You Know Someone Who’s Suffered a Stroke?
We’ve talked a little about how common strokes are. They are so common that you don’t need to know someone personally that’s suffered from a stroke to understand the impact of the condition. Many celebrities have suffered strokes and some have even recovered from them. These include people such as Bret Michaels, who went on to win Celebrity Apprentice after a stroke. Beau Biden, Kirk Douglas, and Sharon Stone all recovered from their strokes.
Nevertheless, celebrities such as John Singleton, Luke Perry, Bill Paxton, and Gene Kelly passed away following their strokes.
Strokes are indeed life-threatening. But these individuals also prove that swift action makes recovery possible.
Remember, strokes are preventable. In part, making sure individuals are free from the grip of addiction lessens their chances of suffering from a stroke.
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.