Dear Readers: This may not be the most interesting column you have ever read, but it could be the most important. I urge you to read it.
Dear Ann Landers: If your loved one were having a stroke, would you know the symptoms and how to help? Please save thousands of lives today by informing your readers about stroke and stroke treatment.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States. Five hundred thousand Americans will have a stroke this year. Of those, 150,000 will die, and many others will be left with severe disabilities, often unable to talk or use one side of the body.
Stroke is a brain attack - blood is prevented from reaching an area of the brain, causing that area to die. A brain attack can strike suddenly, but many attacks are preceded by a warning episode, commonly called a “mini-stroke” or TIA (transient ischemic attack). These warning episodes often last only seconds or minutes and can precede a major, life-threatening stroke by hours, days or even months.
If immediate medical attention is sought, a physician can prescribe medicine and a treatment program that can help reduce the chances of having a stroke. The key is prompt treatment.
Sadly, most people ignore the warning signs of stroke, waiting and hoping that the symptoms will go away. Please tell your readers if they observe any of these symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention:
1. Sudden blurred or decreased vision, especially in one eye.
2. Numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
3. Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding language.
4. Sudden severe headache, dizziness or mental confusion.
5. Sudden loss of balance or an unexplained fall.
For more information, your readers can write to: What You Should Know About Stroke Prevention, AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, Md. 20907, or call: 1-800-358-9295. Thank you, Ann. - Mary Keane, R.N., stroke program coordinator, Trinity Lutheran Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Ann Landers: A year or so ago, my wife, Karen, read your column about the man who quit smoking by silently telling himself, “My last cigarette will be on such-and-such a date.” Karen asked me to try it and I thought, “Why not?” I chose April 1, our 18th wedding anniversary.
In your column, the man looked forward to his quitting date and began to smoke less and less. I was the opposite. I looked forward to the date, but smoked twice as much. I just told myself the last one would be on April 1.
When the day came, I had my last cigarette before midnight, and when I awakened on April 2, I had absolutely no desire to smoke, and I have had none since. I quickly noticed how much easier it was to breathe, and in two weeks, I regained my senses of smell and taste.
Again, Ann, thank you for printing that letter. You have made my life more enjoyable than you will ever know. - G.P., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Dear Grand: Congratulations to you. I am glad you think I made your life more enjoyable. I may actually have saved it. Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 people in the United States annually. Tobacco is definitely addictive and should be classified as a drug.