New research is showing that people who are already at risk for suffering a stroke may face an increased risk after daylight saving time.
The study looked at stroke risk before and after the time change and found a slight increase in stroke-related hospitalizations in the two days following daylight saving.
Know the signs of stroke
Zeshaun Khawaja, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said the findings shouldn’t scare anyone into thinking they are going to have a stroke, but rather highlight the importance of knowing the risk factors.
“Some of the most common risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and we’re now learning that even having an irregular sleep pattern has an association with stroke.” said Dr. Khawaja.
Dr. Khawaja said that while the research did not show a direct cause and effect, it did reaffirm the results of previous studies which have shown that an upset in circadian rhythm can impact a person’s health.
Knowing the risk factors of stroke can help people take extra steps to avoid complications from sleep-wake cycle disruption.
Because few people are able to identify the symptoms of a stroke, doctors like to use the term BE-FAST, which stands for:
B = Balance (Sudden loss of balance can be a sign of stroke)
E = Eyes (Double vision, loss of vision or blurriness)
F = Face (Any kind of drooping or asymmetry in the face)
A = Arms (Weakness or numbness in arms)
S = Speech (Loss of speech, slurring of speech or difficulty understanding speech)
T = Time to call 9-1-1 (A stroke is a neurologic emergency and leading cause of long-term disability)
Dr. Khawaja reminds his patients of the importance of knowing when to call 9-1-1 for help, as every second that is lost equals a loss in brain function.
“You lose about two-million neurons per minute, so that’s why it’s so important that if you have exhibited any of these signs or symptoms of stroke it’s important to call someone right away and get the evaluation done,” said Dr. Khawaja.