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Debunking Stroke Myths

Posted by Emily Shearing May 28 2015

Four out of five strokes are preventable. Positive diet and lifestyle changes, as well as regular exercise and quitting smoking can all decrease stroke risk significantly.

And yet, a common myth is that strokes can’t be prevented.

Even more myths about the disease that affects 800,000 people each year exist. Here are a few prevalent misconceptions about stroke debunked.

Myth: Strokes don’t affect people under the age of 65.
Strokes don’t discriminate based on age. A quarter of strokes occur in people younger than 65, and one in ten strokes occur in people age 45 and younger, and those numbers are rising.

Myth: Recovery only happens in the first few months after a stroke occurs.
Although the time shortly after a stroke occurs is important, most stroke survivors see the effects of recovery for the rest of their lives. Continuing physical, speech, and occupational therapy for years after a stroke can still yield positive results.

Myth: Stroke happens in the heart.
Strokes occur when blood supply to a portion of the brain is cut off.

Myth: If you’re not in pain, it’s not a stroke.
Many stroke patients don’t feel any pain at all. The more common symptoms include dizziness and loss of balance, difficulty speaking, numbness in extremities, and trouble understanding those around you.

Myth: Strokes don’t run in the family.
The risk of having a stroke increases for those with a family history of stroke.

Myth: Strokes are rare.
There are 7 million stroke survivors in the United States and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the country.

Myth: Small strokes don’t need medical attention.
Every stroke requires immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment could be the difference between life and death and making a full recovery versus having severe, long-term effects.

Myth: Stroke survivors have no life for themselves.
Although many survivors live with the effects of stroke for the rest of their lives, many make a strong recovery and live a fulfilling life. After suffering a stroke at age 21, survivor Andrew Bloom of West Palm Beach, Fla., graduated from college, got married, and had two kids. Bert Seitzinger of Virginia lost most of the use in his left hand after a stroke six years ago, but now spends his time restoring vehicles and building items by hand. “Challenges do not limit your ability to have a normal life,” Bloom says.

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