Stroke: Why There is a Need for Decision Aids

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Stroke is a fatal terminal disease that reoccurs once symptoms appear. Stroke is the second highest cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (2012). Experiencing a stroke is a physiological and neurological event that changes a person’s life forever. This article’s purpose is to review what a stroke is, who is affected, and how a stroke occurs. There are going to be valuable available resources cited in this article; however, currently, there is not a single cohesive decision aid or document explaining, in layman’s terms, how to prevent a stroke or even maintaining one’s physiological changes after experiencing a stroke.

There is a problem with the lack of decision aids for stroke survivors. There are different types of stroke, and they are deadly because people could become handicapped. Anyone could have a stroke, regardless of age, sex, and race. Not having a clear and concise resource of what a stroke is, who is affected, and how one could live his or her life after experiencing this life-changing event is a huge problem. Digital Strategy Yoga is here to highlight the need for stroke decision aids.

What is a stroke?
A stroke is a chronic disease resulting from a lack of blood flow to the brain which leads to the brain to be deficient of oxygen. The oxygen deficiency coming from the lack of blood flow to the brain is similar to a person choking on water and drowning. Like how a person’s body stops moving after the lungs fill up with water, a person’s brain chokes not only on itself but on the entire body. The longer the body goes without the brain’s proper functioning of nerves, neurons, and synapses, the greater the likelihood the body is going to suffer consequences such as weakness in the arm, leg, or both. Every single second in identifying a person who is suffering from a stroke is crucial.

Who is and can be affected by a stroke?
Anyone can have a stroke. The longer the person suffers a stroke, the higher the risk of bodily harm or handicap. The person may not be able to freely move his or her arm, leg, both in addition to not being able to speak clearly or swallow meals properly. Knowing how to identify a stroke is crucial to prevent bodily debilitation, and, in worst case scenarios, death.

How can one identify a stroke?
There are four main identifiers in a stroke. The National Stroke Association has explained the four main identifiers under the acronym, F.A.S.T. The aforementioned acronym that the National Stroke Association publicizes for identifying is considered the only applicable decision aid for those at risk for stroke or stroke survivors.

  • F stands for the falling of the side of the face. The person experiencing the stroke is going to present a slight droop or falling of one side of the face as if the person’s face is melting like wax from a fire.
  • A in F.A.S.T. stands for the arm involuntarily falling or drooping. This also includes weakness or numbness the person experiencing the stroke may complain about.
  • S is for slurred speech. The person experiencing the stroke may not be able to talk in a clear, defined manner as he or she did before. All the words coming out of the person’s mouth may be slurred.
  • Lastly, the T in F.A.S.T. stands for time. As previously mentioned, every single second counts in getting immediate medical assistance when a stroke is occurring. However, before one has to worry about observing for these four aforementioned identifiers, there are ways to maintain one’s health to lessen the risk of getting a stroke.

Doctor writes stroke symptoms

How can one prevent a stroke?
The best possible method to prevent a stroke, as mentioned by various sources such as the American Heart Association, is by living a healthy lifestyle. Now, what does living a healthy lifestyle mean? To live a healthy lifestyle, one has to know his or her own family pedigree of diseases in addition to following a strict heart-healthy diet and exercising for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week. In this day and age, however, people find incorporating time for exercise in their daily lives difficult because they are always occupied and on-the-go. Attached to this article are going to be quick five-minute exercises and/or stretching exercises with visual images or graphics one could utilize while on the move from one place or task to another. Committing to a strict heart-healthy diet is a challenge as well because healthy foods are ironically more expensive than junk or fatty foods.

What kinds of resources are becoming more available to the public in order to enforce healthy lifestyle habits?
There are foreign food market brands quickly dominating in America for affordable healthy foods; one such brand is Aldi. Attached to the end of this article are going to be how to maintain a heart healthy diet using a food pyramid provided by the American Diabetic Association and a website directing viewers to Aldi’s purpose for being a growing presence in the healthy affordable food chain business. There is a cornucopia of information on exercises a person could do on the go, at the gym, at work, and/or at home. One such exercise a person could anywhere are lunges.

Are there thoroughly understandable and comprehensive decision aids for stroke available to the public?
There are no decision aids concisely explaining stroke and the manner of life after a stroke currently existing to the public. There are decision aids concerning only medications for possible stroke patients who indeed have atrial fibrillation, a pre-existing health condition which could lead to a stroke.

There are four disorganized and different decision aids made by Patient, a UK registered healthcare professional site, for patients who have atrial fibrillation and are at risk for stroke. Those decision aids have a common weakness though. They only focus on patients who have the condition of atrial fibrillation. There are many other conditions which could strokes, such as diabetes or level of high cholesterol and triglycerides. The existing data about the effectiveness of the medications to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation patients are also only dependent on observational data over the course of a year. The scope of these decision aids is too narrow. Anyone can have a stroke, including children. There needs to be better comprehensive decision aids to aid those at risk for stroke to make better decisions in their lives and learn to live around a stroke for the rest of their lives.

Digital Tools/Apps from the Google Play Store Available for Stroke Patients
There are only three free, high-rated applications available for stroke patients in the Google Play Store.

  1. Stroke Riskometer
    Amount of Downloads: 1,000
    Rating on Play Store: 3.1 by 70 people
    This application was made, by Professor Valery Feigin from the AUT’S National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, for the purpose of approximately calculating the chances of getting a stroke within the next five to ten years for any person.
    Unfortunately, this app does not provide a comprehensive and clear outline of what may cause a stroke. The hidden purpose of this app is to persuade people to participate in a study for further research on stroke risks. The benefit this app provides, on the other hand, is user-friendly with basic terms explaining everything.
  2. Stroke Patient
    Amount of Downloads: 1,000
    Rating on Play Store: 5.5 by 17 people
    This app is well-done and is the closest tool to a decision aid. The app explains every aspect of stroke known to medicine. There are easy to understand explanation about the causes, prevention tips, and the recovery process for stroke patients. There is a clear, comprehensive about the 5 stage hospital treatment diagram in addition to a medication regimen. However, the one downside to this app is that its design is not interactive and also lacks advice from accredited resources for lifestyle habits or a journal to help keep track of these habits.
  3. Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.
    Amount of Downloads: 10,000
    Rating on Play Store: 4.5 by 110 people
    This app was designed and made by the American Heart Association. All this app provides is an interactive, graphic-friendly design of explanations for the acronym, F.A.S.T. Other than the acronym being emphasized, there is nothing else explained on this app because the American Heart Association provides other resources through the section, Other Helpful Resources.

Additional Resources

Patient: UK-Registered Healthcare Professional Site
Atrial Fibrillation Stroke Decision Aids


American Diabetic Association
Healthy Eating


Aldi (a gradually popular German-originating affordable healthy food supermarket)


Quick Workouts to Do At Work


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