This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 15, 1991

May 15, 1991 - Stroke Awareness month

In 1984, my mother had a devastating brain hemorrhage. Just a few days later, she was dead. Her father and mother had both had strokes; her father recovered over time, but her mother never did.

Thus May, Stroke Awareness Month, is of deep personal interest to me. A family history of strokes is one of those stroke "risk factors" that cannot be changed, like old age, or diabetes.

What is a stroke? Also called a "cerebrovascular accident," a stroke is a sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain. Without an adequate supply of blood, the oxygen supply is cut off, and brain cells die.

What causes it? Sometimes the cerebral or carotid artery of the brain is blocked (often by arteriosclerosis, or by the accumulation of fatty tissues in the blood vessels). Sometimes a section of an artery wall bursts, spilling blood into the brain.
What are the warning signs of a stroke? A sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes is a frequent signal. Stroke victims may experience numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, or in either an upper or lower limb, occurring on one or both sides of the body. Victims may have difficulty speaking or understanding, or swallowing. Sometimes, as in the case of my mother, people experience a severe and abrupt onset of a "headache."

Some of these symptoms are very brief -- lasting only a few minutes. They may be "mini-strokes" -- more properly called Transient Ischemic Attacks. You might feel just fine 24 hours later.

Nonetheless, if any of these things happen to you, you should get to a doctor immediately. With appropriate care, you may be able to stop a stroke, reduce its damage, or prevent a more serious, subsequent attack.

What can you do to lower the risk of a stroke? High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, smoking, excess alcohol, obesity, and oral contraceptives (especially if you're over 30 years old), all increase the likelihood of a stroke. Some of these things can be controlled just by changes in your lifestyle: don't eat or drink too much, get lots of exercise, quit smoking, avoid birth control pills, reduce the level of stress in your life. Other factors can be addressed by medicine.
What if you, or someone you know, has already had a stroke? Get in touch with the Sky Cliff Stroke Center, in Castle Rock (688-6386 or 688-2249). This program, the realization of the dreams of K.M. Ludgivson, aims to enable stroke victims to become stroke victors. The Sky Cliff Stroke Center's primary purpose is to provide mutual support. The Center encourages people who have had strokes to socialize with each other, to play together (crafts and adapted sports), to participate in special projects for preschoolers, to share spiritual insights, and to educate themselves and those around them.

For additional information, you might contact the National Stroke Association (300 East Hampden Ave., Suite 240, Englewood CO 80110) or stop by the library.

The following books (with their call numbers) are available from the Douglas Public Library District: "The anti-cancer, -heart attack, -stroke diet," by Bill Adler (641.563 ADL); "How to prevent a stroke : a complete risk-reduction program," by Peggy Jo Donahue, (616.81 DON); "Stroke : the new hope and the new help," by Arthur S. Freese (616.81 FRE); "Stroke, from crisis to victory : a family guide," by John H. Lavin (616.81 LAV), and "After the stroke," by May Sarton (818 SAR).

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