American humorist and radio host Garrison Keillor continues to recover from a minor stroke he suffered on Labor Day at his home in Minneapolis.
Keillor, 67, drove himself to a hospital in St. Paul after feeling ill. He was then taken to the Mayo Clinic, where he was treated for four nights before being released in good health.
Keillor is known primarily for hosting the popular and long-running National Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion. The Saturday evening program is broadcast live on 600 radio stations nationwide, reaching 4 million listeners. He returned to work immediately after leaving the hospital, preparing for the show's Sept. 26 season premiere in St. Paul, Minn.
According to statistics, Keillor was lucky. Strokes, a condition caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain or bleeding within the brain itself, are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Depending on the area of the brain that is damaged, a stroke can cause coma, reversible or irreversible paralysis, speech problems, visual disturbances, and dementia. The severity of the stroke can indicxate how readily these problems may improve with rehabilitative therapy.
Factors that increase the risk of certain types of stroke include hypertension, diabetes, elevated levels of high cholesterol or homocysteine, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the blood vessels that supply the brain. Smoking and diets low in potassium are also believed increase the risk of stroke.
Several types of strokes can strike the brain with little warning -- but the risk of having future strokes can be lowered with the following self-care steps.
- Modify your diet. Reduce stroke risk by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
- Steer clear of smoke. Kick the habit and avoid secondhand smoke to lower your risk.
- Trim down. Shed those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight to lower your risk.
- Work in a workout. Being a couch potato increases your stroke risk, so be sure to get regular exercise.
- Take a test. Visit your doctor for a series of tests to determine if you have problems with high blood pressure or high blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, or glucose; all may increase your risk of stroke.
Symptoms of stroke include weakness, numbness, or inability to move an arm or leg; sudden and intense headache; severe dizziness or loss of coordination and balance; difficulty with speaking or understanding; and blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes. People with stroke may also have seizures, vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing. Some people experience temporary warning episodes of neurologic symptoms called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) before suffering a complete stroke.
People experiencing symptoms suggestive of having suffered a stroke or a TIA require immediate (emergency room) medical attention.
The best way to recover after a stroke is to start stroke rehabilitation. In stroke rehab, a team of health professionals works with you to help regain the skills and mobility you may have lost as the result of a stroke. Rehab can help you to:
- Be as independent as possible.
- Learn to live with the changes to your brain and body caused by the stroke.
- Adjust to living with disabilities within your home, family, and community.
Rehab usually begins while you are still in the hospital. After you are released, you can continue treatment at a rehab center or at home. Most rehab programs offer at least 3 hours of therapy each day, 5 or 6 days a week.
Taking steps to prevent a future stroke are key. To stay in good health, you may need to take medicines and make some lifestyle changes. Work with your rehab team to decide what type of exercise, diet, or other lifestyle choices are best for you.
You have the greatest chance of regaining your abilities during the first few months after a stroke, so it's important to start rehab soon as possible after a stroke, and continue with your plan every day.
Information from Healthwise was used to supplement this article.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times