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  • Christina Hunt

BE FAST in Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Stroke. Having a Lung Condition may Increase Your Risk


Although my readers know that I like to keep things upbeat on this blog, I also aim to educate them on different aspects of their condition that could lead to serious complications. At the hospital where I work, we have continuous education training each year on many topics. As I was completing one of my assignments on recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke, the gears started turning in my head on whether or not the public knew what to look for as well.


There has been several studies done that show a correlation between lung disease and risk of stroke. Chest, a highly regarded medical journal, stated in a December 2006 article that “studies suggest that impaired lung function due to chronic lung inflammation induces a low-grade systemic inflammatory response that impacts blood vessels.” In February 2016, a study was done to see if there was a correlation to having COPD and the risk of stroke (For those of you interested in reading the full study it was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine). This study concluded that there was “a higher risk of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in subjects with COPD.” For my readers with pulmonary fibrosis, Chest also reported on a study in January of 2015 that in the results stated that patients with IPF were more likely to have a record of high blood pressure and diabetes (both risk factors of stroke) compared to those that didn’t have IPF and were more likely to be prescribed cardiovascular medicines (heart meds) yet they didn’t see the correlation to being more likely to have a stroke. However this was the only study I found on the subject and I think that more research should be done. I tell you this not to scare you into thinking the worst, but to inform you so that you understand the risk and what to look for if you start to show signs of having a stroke.



So what is a stroke?


Also known as a CVA (cerebrovascular accident), a stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off. Brain cells get deprived of oxygen and immediately begin to die. When you have death of brain cells in a particular location, functions controlled by that area are impacted and many times can be lost. There are two types of stroke. Hemorrhagic is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. The other type is Ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke is the more common of the two and it occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked. Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S.


What are risk factors that could lead to having a stroke?


1. High blood pressure – depending on what text or study you read, you are going to see different numbers for high blood pressure. 140/90 and higher is what I typically use.



2. Diabetes – can cause blockages or hardening in your arteries making it difficult for oxygenated blood to get to your brain.

3. Heart disease – This includes: Atrial fibrillation, Coronary Artery Disease, and heart valves that are defective

4. Smoking – why? Not only does it contributes to lung disease, but nicotine increases your blood pressure. If you haven’t stopped smoking yet, now is the time. ;)



5. Alcoholism- Long term excessive use of alcohol can damage blood vessels and lead to a hemorrhagic stroke. Heavy alcohol use can raise blood pressure and reduce the blood’s ability to clot.

6. Lack of physical activity – Exercise helps to control your weight, it makes your blood less likely to clot, and increases your “good” cholesterol levels (HDL).

7. Obesity

8. Stress and/or depression – people under an excessive amount of stress or are highly depressed often have other risk factors like high blood pressure, alcoholism, lack of sleep, or smoke.

9. Unhealthy cholesterol levels- can cause increased risk of blockages in arteries

10. Personal family history of stroke

11. Age and gender

12. Race and ethnicity


How do you recognize if someone is having a stroke? Use the acronym BE FAST!


B – Balance: Is there a sudden loss of balance and/or coordination?

E- Eyes: Is there sudden blurred or double vision or is there sudden trouble with seeing at all?

F- Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one or both sides of the face drooping?

A- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is there one side weak/numb/or drifting downwards? Sometimes this weakness can also extend to the legs as well.

S- Speech: Does the person have slurred or garbled speech? Can they repeat simple phrases?

T- Time: Call 911 for immediate medical attention if you notice one or more of these symptoms. Call even if these signs seem to have been temporary. Take note when the symptoms began.



How can you reduce your chance of having a stroke?


  • Exercise regularly. Get involved in a pulmonary rehab program if you need guidance on how to get started with exercise when you have a lung condition.

  • Do your best to maintain healthy eating habits.



  • Manage any health related symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes with proper medications. See your physician if the medications you take are not working well to manage your condition.

  • Get plenty of rest. Make sure you are allowing your body to rest and get a proper night’s sleep. If you aren’t getting the sleep you need, see your physician about having a sleep study. Many people with lung conditions also have a sleep disorder. (It comes with the territory unfortunately.)

  • Wear your oxygen if prescribed. If you are wearing your oxygen as prescribed, you aren’t stressing your heart and lungs by having to compensate for low oxygen levels. Low oxygen levels can cause heart rhythm irregularity and high blood pressure amongst other side effects.

  • Talk to your physician about other risk factors that you might have and how you can do your best to reduce your odds of having a stroke

Thanks for Reading!


Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!


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:) Christina


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