The American Heart Association states that stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

Working with a primarily senior population, the health care team at the 45 year old Staten Island-based, healthcare agency, SafeHarbor HealthCare Services works with many patients who are in need of assistance due to having survived a stroke.

“It is a frustrating and painful process to watch your loved one work their way to a more independent way of life and in some cases the severity of the stroke may never allow for a full recovery” stated Mary Brady RN, Supervising nurse at SafeHarbor.“While our trained healthcare providers are knowledgeable, we also encourage family members living with or occasionally caring for the loved one to know t he possible risk factors and the warning signs.”

Risk factors for many include:

  • having already had a stroke
  • having Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), a warning stroke that caused no lasting damage
  • having had a heart attack

There are other contributors, but for the caregiver, or person living with someone who has risk factors, it is also important to know the signs of a stroke.  The American Heart Association has an easy way to remember sudden signs called F.A.S.T.

 F.A.S.T. is:

  • F- Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.  Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • A -Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S-Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T- Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

The National Stroke Association cites that one in six strokes is caused by a heart condition called atrial fibrillation (Afib), a condition where the heart beats abnormally resulting in the formation of blood clots.  Medical science has shown that having Afib increases the risk of stroke by 500 percent.

“Recent  studies have concluded that more strokes are attributed to Afib even though a short hospital visit does not indicate its presence.  Patients and their loved ones should relate any known risk factors or behaviors to the treating physician to rule out a heart problem as the cause of a stroke.  Caring for a patient and being knowledgeable and in tune with their risk factors and the latest medical science data on this issue is key to quality care”, added Ms. Brady.

For information about SafeHarbor  call: 718-979-6900.

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