Understanding Your Risk For a Stroke

Understanding Your Risk For a StrokeIn January of 2021, rapper and mogul Dr. Dre, 59, was hospitalized for a brain aneurysm. Now, in 2024, he tells podcast host James Corden that he suffered three strokes, putting him the ICU for two weeks.

CBS News reports:

“So they took me to urgent care,” Dr. Dre said, where he was told his condition was serious. “Next thing you know, I’m blacking out. I’m in and out of consciousness, and I ended up in the ICU. I was there for two weeks. I’m hearing the doctors coming in and saying, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are.'”

“Nobody could give me an answer,” he said when asked what doctors told him might have prevented the aneurysm.

He also mentioned, “High blood pressure in Black men, that’s just what it is. They call it the silent killer. You just have no idea.”

What’s the difference between an aneurysm and a stroke?

An aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel that causes it to bulge outward like a balloon. Aneurysms can occur anywhere in the body, but they are most dangerous when they develop in the brain (cerebral aneurysm).

Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm can include:

  • Sudden, severe headache (often described as the worst headache of your life)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck stiffness
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness

A stroke happens when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted. This can be caused by a blockage (ischemic stroke) or a burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Brain cells that are deprived of blood die, which can lead to lasting damage and disability.

Symptoms of stroke can include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the face, arm, or leg
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness or trouble walking

An aneurysm can lead to a stroke, but strokes don’t lead to aneurysms.

What are the risk factors for stroke?

The CDC reports that more than 877,500 Americans die every year from heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death here in the United States.

According to the CDC, anyone can have a stroke at any age. However, the risk factors for stroke include:

  • Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking

The National Institute of Health also reports other risk factors, based on lifestyle, genetics, and environment:

  • Age: A stroke can happen at any age, but babies under the age of one and older adults have a higher risk.
  • Anxiety and stress: Depression, stress, and anxiety levels can raise your risk of a stroke, especially if you work long hours and don’t have much contact with others outside the home.
  • Family history: Your risk of a stroke is higher if you have a parent or other family member who has had a stroke, especially at a younger age. Also, those with blood type AB have a higher risk.
  • Other medical conditions: Things like sleep apnea, kidney disease, and migraine headaches can also raise the risk of a stroke.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle: Getting too much sleep (more than 9 hours), drinking too much alcohol, and use of illegal drugs can raise stroke risk.
  • Race and ethnicity. Here in the United States, stroke happens more often in Black, Alaska Native, American Indian, and Hispanic adults.
  • Sex: Men are more likely than women to have a stroke when they’re younger. However, because women live longer than men, their lifetime risk of having a stroke is higher. Additionally, women who take birth control or hormone replacement therapy are at a higher risk. Finally, women are at a higher risk of stroke during pregnancy and the weeks after giving birth.
  • Viral infections: Conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which cause inflammation, can also heighten the risk of a stroke.

It’s important to treat any symptoms of stroke promptly, and nursing homes especially, for example, need to be aware of a patient’s risk of stroke. Strokes can be treated as long as there is no delay in treatment. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a medication that works by dissolving the clot and restoring blood flow to the affected area of the brain. It works best if given in the first three hours after symptoms start – underscoring the need for prompt attention.

How can nursing homes reduce the risk of stroke in their patients?

Nursing home staff should be aware of which patients are at a higher risk for stroke, and ensure any symptoms are caught quickly. In cases of residents who were admitted for an initial stroke, great care must be taken to ensure another one is caught quickly.

Nursing homes can implement a multi-faceted approach to reduce the risk of stroke in their residents. Here’s how.

Proactive health management

  • Regular monitoring:Regularly monitor residents’ blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. These are key risk factors for stroke, and early detection allows for treatment to bring them under control.
  • Medication management:Ensure residents receive proper medication adherence for any conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which can significantly reduce stroke risk.
  • Diet and nutrition:Promote a healthy diet low in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This can help maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.

Lifestyle modifications

  • Physical activity:Encourage regular physical activity, within a resident’s capabilities. This could include assisted walking programs, chair exercises, or physical therapy. Exercise helps improve blood flow and overall health.
  • Smoking cessation:Help residents who smoke to quit. Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke, and quitting can significantly reduce the risk.
  • Fall prevention:Implement fall prevention strategies like grab bars, proper footwear, and balance exercises. Falls can lead to head injuries, which can increase stroke risk.

Staff training and awareness

  • Stroke recognition training:Train staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke (sudden weakness, slurred speech, facial drooping). Early recognition allows for quicker medical intervention, which can minimize brain damage.
  • Communication protocols:Establish clear protocols for responding to suspected strokes. This may involve immediate notification of emergency services and ensuring residents get to the hospital as quickly as possible.

If your elderly loved one suffered damage from the delayed treatment of a stroke, don’t wait to call a nursing home lawyer at Garcia & Artigliere. We have over 30 years of experience helping clients seek justice and compensation for their injuries and losses. When you’re ready to discuss your case, simply fill out our contact form or call our office to arrange a free, no-obligation case review today. We have offices in PhoenixLong BeachLos AngelesLouisville, and New Orleans.