posted May 1, 2014, 9:38 AM by First Congregational Church United Church of Christ   [ updated Apr 6, 2017, 4:21 PM ]

Every May I write an article about stroke because I know how important it is that we recognize the signs this year with the added emphasis on St. Clair County statistics and why we need to be more vigilant than ever.

Stroke kills about 130,000 of the 800,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year—that’s and symptoms of stroke and that we do all we can to prevent experiencing one.  I am doing the same 1 in every 19 deaths from all causes.  A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.  You can greatly reduce your risk for stroke through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

Several factors that are beyond your control can increase your risk for stroke, including age, sex, and ethnicity.  Some unhealthy habits you can change to reduce your risk include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough exercise.  Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes can also increase your risk for stroke.

The most common signs and symptoms of stroke are sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause.  If you think that you or someone you know is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.  Time lost is brain cells lost!

Reviewing St. Clair County’s CHAProfile, I learned that over 1/3 of SCC residents have high blood pressure.  This is higher than the Michigan and national rate!  Over 27% of SCC adults are current smokers, which has not decreased since the 2005 figures.  This was significantly higher than the state rate of 19.6% and national rate of 17.9%.  When it comes to alcohol consumption, we are higher in the “heavy drinker” category and lower in the “abstainer” category, both nationally and statewide.  Again, bad news!  I hate to sound redundant, but our numbers for regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes moderate physical activity 5 at least 5 times a week) are, again, significantly lower than state and national levels by more than 10%!  Do you eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily?  Only 18.4% of SCC residents do, compared to 22.6% statewide and 23.4% nationally.  I think the most astounding statistic for me was the fact that nearly 2/3 of SCC adult residents are above the “normal” healthy body weight.  Again, we sadly topped the charts compared to state and national levels.

If you are seeing yourself poorly in any of these categories, think about the consequences it can mean.  I know it is a real eye-opener to me personally!  If you have any ideas for a wellness plan for our church, let me know.  Maybe we can have a creative and fun way to take on these challenges and do our part to be healthy.  Happy May! 

Your Parish Nurse,

Mary Ann Martin, RN, FCN