Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jan's Journal Part 3 - Stroke Risk Factors

Jan Jahnel RN, CNRN is the Stroke Nurse Coordinator for the INI Stroke Center and INI Stroke Network at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. Jan has 14 years of neuroscience nursing experience with the last five years focusing on stroke processes and care. Her commitment and dedication has been an important part of stroke camp. She works very closely with Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp, attending many weekend camps, helping with some of our fund raisers, and providing us with technical knowledge about strokes. 

This is an article she wrote during one of our fund raisers. Yes, she is a great multi-tasker.

80% of strokes are preventable. Understanding your risk and managing them can reduce your risk of stroke. There are two types of risk factors: uncontrollable and controllable.

Uncontrollable - uncontrollable risk factors are...ones you have no control over, like:  age, sex, race, heredity, and prior history of heart attack or stroke. Since these put all of us at risk for stroke without any control it is important that we know and pay attention to the controllable ones.

Controllable - controllable risks are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, smoking, obesity, and physical in-activity.  These can be controlled with medical management, medications and lifestyle changes.

Know your risks, talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors and make changes necessary to prevent a stroke. It is never too early and never too late to start.

---EDITOR'S Note:
I'll bet you wondering what Atrial Fibrillation is. Here is Wikipedia's definition:

Atrial fibrillation 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). It may cause no symptoms, but it is often associated with palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure. AF increases the risk of stroke; the degree of stroke risk can be up to seven times that of the average population, depending on the presence of additional risk factors (such as high blood pressure). It may be identified clinically when taking a pulse, and the presence of AF can be confirmed with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) which demonstrates the absence of P waves together with an irregular ventricular rate...

 Atrial fibrillation may be treated with medications to either slow the heart rate to a normal range ("rate control") or revert the heart rhythm back to normal ("rhythm control"). Synchronized electrical cardioversion can be used to convert AF to a normal heart rhythm. Surgical and catheter-based therapies may be used to prevent recurrence of AF in certain individuals. People with AF often take anticoagulants such as warfarin to protect them from stroke, depending on the calculated risk. The prevalence of AF in a population increases with age, with 8% of people over 80 having AF. Chronic AF leads to a small increase in the risk of death. A third of all strokes are caused by AF.

If you have any questions or answers we'd be happy to hear from you.

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