January 14, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 13 Health, Fitness & Beauty (ARA) When a stroke strikes, every minute counts in saving the person’s life. Speedy treatment depends on the person afflicted or someone near them recognizing the five signs that a stroke is occurring and getting emergency help fast. You can remember the five signs of stroke with these five words: walk, talk, reach, see, and feel. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. About 5.3 million Americans suffer from strokes annually, which means you or someone you care about could be affected. Dr. Diana Fite, an emergency physician from Houston, experienced a stroke in 2006 while driving her car. She was 53 at the time. Thanks to her quick reaction and prompt medical attention, she made a full recovery. “Because I am an emergency physician, I knew to call 911 to get help immediately, which is why I recovered quickly,” Fite said. “But I know from my experience as a doctor that too many people ignore stroke symptoms or wait for them to go away, with tragic results.” Fite is the spokesperson for “Give Me 5 for Stroke: Walk, Talk, Reach, See, Feel,” a campaign aimed at educating Americans about the five warning signs of a stroke. The campaign is made up of three organizations: the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Stroke Association. The group came up with five words to help people remember the warning symptoms of stroke more easily: walk, talk, reach, see, and feel. By paying attention to how a person walks, talks, reaches, sees and feels, individuals and family members can recognize when a stroke is happening and react immediately. “Walk” is to recognize if a person’s balance is off-kilter, “talk” identifies if a person’s speech is slurred or their face is droopy, “reach” points out if the person feels numb on one side, “see” pinpoints if the person has partially or completely lost their vision and “feel” discovers if the person has a severe headache. If any of these stroke symptoms occur suddenly, call 911 immediately. Actress Morgan Fairchild, who recently played Sophia Stroke: Know the five signs and act quickly Blakely in “Fashion House” and is remembered as Jordan Roberts in the ‘80s TV drama “Falcon Crest,” has teamed up with the organizations in promoting “Give Me 5 for Stroke.” “I witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of stroke on my mother,” said Fairchild, the primary caregiver for her mother, who suffered a series of debilitating strokes until her death in 1999. “Stroke is a killer, but for too many people, it doesn’t need to be. If you know the warning signs and get medical help right away, you have an excellent (ARA) A recent Sealy survey shows 67 percent of Americans are only getting six or seven hours of sleep each night -- not the eight hours medically recommended to perform during the day. Dr. Carol Ash, medical director of Sleep for Life Inc., says outside factors like work and family schedules are the main reasons many people are not getting eight hours of sleep at night. When eight hours isn’t possible, it’s important to maximize the sleep you do get to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Quality sleep improves concentration, increases memory function and reduces stress, while keeping diabetes and high blood pressure at bay. “Although sleep isn’t optional, your sleep environment is, and making sure you’re resting under optimum circumstances puts you in control of your sleep cycle and energy level,” says Ash. “You might not be able to sleep longer, but you can certainly sleep better.” Ash offers these simple tips for a restful night’s sleep: Bedtime Get in the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Doing this, along with limiting catnaps, can help set your internal clock so it feels natural to fall asleep at a certain time. Caffeine How to maximize your sleep chance of making a good recovery. “Women especially need to know the warning signs, because they account for over 60 percent of the deaths from stroke,” Fairchild added. “We are also the health information keepers for our families and must spread the word to our siblings, spouses, parents and friends about how to recognize a stroke.” For additional information about “Give Me 5 for Stroke: Walk, Talk, Reach, See, Feel” and resources about strokes, visit www.giveme5forstroke.org or call (888) 4STROKE. Limit your caffeine intake. The effects of caffeine can last up to 12 hours or more and can prohibit your ability to fall and stay asleep. Anyone who regularly tosses and turns at night should consider removing some or all caffeine from their diet. Exercise Get plenty of exercise during the day, but preferably not within three hours before you go to sleep to give your body a chance to unwind and cool down. Environment Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Close the curtains and, if necessary, use a sleep mask or earplugs. Lower the temperature in your bedroom before going to bed as cooler temperatures can help maximize sleep. Routine Establish a bedtime routine. Doing the same thing every evening can provide a soothing effect best for sleeping. For example, you could have a cup of tea, read a book, or listen to music. Mattress Choose a comfortable mattress. Update your mattress. Many consumers do not realize the critical role a mattress plays in a peaceful night’s sleep. 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