Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the world. In China it is one of the 5 top causes of adult death. Do you know someone who has had a stroke? Chances are you do. Your mother or your father? Your grandmother or grandfather? Or maybe even yourself. Have you ever thought about the following important questions about strokes: First, what causes a stroke? Second, can strokes be prevented? Third, if I have a stroke or someone in my family has one how can I be cared for or care for them? Fourth, after a stroke can someone walk or talk? Finally, if I or someone I know has a stroke and dies, which is as a result of the stroke, what happens to them after they die? Is their hope after death?
Let me tell you the story of a person I know who had a stroke. Zhang Wei Ping was 72 years old. He had been in fairly good health until several years before when he discovered that he had high blood pressure. He had gone to the doctor as a result of being dizzy at times. While examining him the doctor told Zhang Wei Ping that he had high blood pressure. His blood pressure was 160/100. The doctor told Zhang Wei Ping that he should exercise more and loose some weight. That should bring his blood pressure down. Should that not work then Zhang Wei Ping would have to take some blood pressure medication to bring his blood pressure down.
Zhang Wei Ping did as the doctor told him. He began to exercise by walking every morning for 20 minutes. He realized that over the past 10 years after retiring he had not been very active and actually gained 5-8 kilograms of weight. Zhang Wei Ping exercised for 3 months and returned to his doctor. Though his blood pressure was better it was still not normal. This time his reading was 150/95. The doctor discussed with Zhang Wei Ping and suggested that he go on blood pressure medications. Zhang Wei Ping agreed to this plan.
Zhang Wei Ping took his medications very faithfully for several years. He also lost the 5-8 kilograms and his blood pressure normalized to 140/85. He felt much better after exercising every day, loosing weight and with his blood pressure being normal.
Then one day Zhang Wei Ping stopped his medications without discussing this with his doctor. He had felt fine and thought his blood pressure problems were under control and did not want to take the medication any more. Besides, the medication always made his face red for an hour or so after he took the medication. He had never told his doctor that the blood pressure medication made his face red. He also did not tell his family that he had stopped his medications.
Zhang Wei Ping felt fine for the next month. He was also glad to not have the redness in his face after he took his medications. He thought, ‘My blood pressure problems are over and I will never have to take those medications again.’
Then suddenly one day while he was shaving his right hand became numb. He then became very dizzy, like several years before, but this time much worse. Then his right hand and leg became weak. His called for his wife and she came in, finding him on the floor. His family took him to the hospital where the doctor confirmed that he had a large stroke. Zhang Wei Ping never walked again nor could he shave again or write or eat, as he was right-handed.
During the next several months Zhang Wei Ping became very depressed, as he had to have someone help him do everything. His wife or family had to help him dress, bathe, eat. This was very humiliating. Worst of all though was that he could not play with his grandson who was now 6 years old. All he could do was sit in his wheelchair and watch his grandson run and play or watch his friends talk outside and he could not even walk down the stairs to talk with them.
Zhang Wei Ping began to really think about the purpose of life and also what would happen to him after he died. The reason was that the doctor had told him that he could have another stroke and that one could kill him. He had heard on the radio the other day about ‘life after death.’ What did that mean? He talked about this with some friends but none of them were really interested in talking with him.
Then one day on the radio he heard again about this concept of ‘life after death’ and he also heard about the name of Jesus Christ associated with this concept. Who was this Jesus Christ? The radio program said he was God’s Son who had come to earth as a God-Man to save the people of the world from their sins. The program explained that the Bible or God’s Word says that ‘all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23).’ The program explained that sin is man’s going against God’s plans for man. It also said that the ‘result of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6.23). Then it explained that the Bible promised an amazing thing. ‘Even when man went his own way God showed his love for mankind and died for them (Romans 5.8). It explained that Jesus died on a Cross for our sins. That is he carried on himself our sins and took from God the punishment for those sins, which caused him to die.
But then Zhang Wei Ping heard something he had never heard before. Not even from his Buddhist mother or Confucian father. This Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He had never heard of anyone doing that before. Further he heard that because of Jesus Christ rising from the dead that he had conquered death. Death was no longer our enemy or something to be feared.
Zhang Wei Ping though had one other question. How could HE no longer fear death? Then the radio program stated that the Bible said ‘that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus (that is that Jesus is the Lord God of all the world) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10. 9,10).’
Zhang Wei Ping died several months later of a second stroke. However, he did not die in fear of death. He died in anticipation of being with Jesus Christ for eternity because he had asked Jesus Christ into his life as Savior to forgive him of his sins.
Before we talk about Stroke’s let’s first talk about how to prevent strokes: First, get your blood pressure checked at least once a year and if elevated follow your doctors orders. Second, exercise 30 minutes several times a week. Third, keep your weight down. Fourth and finally below are listed risk factors. Discuss these risk factors with your doctor to which ones can be changed.
Now that we know of Zhang Wei Ping’s story and about a stroke patient, how can you know if you are at risk for a stroke? Let’s look at the risk factors that one might have for a stroke: First, is blood pressure. This is very important. The normal blood pressure should be less than 140/90. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a week. Second is age. If you are older than 60 or so you have a chance of having a stroke. However, younger people can have one and the older you are the more likely you are to have one. Third, is Diabetes. Fourth is high cholesterol and triglycerides. Fifth is cigarette smoking. Sixth is a family history of stroke. Seventh is alcohol intake. Eighth is a prior history of cardiac disease. Ninth is AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Tenth is recreational drug use such as heroin. Eleventh is a prior history of having a heart valve put in place by a doctor. If you have any of these risk factors you should talk with a doctor to see if you are at risk for a stroke.
Next, what are warning signs and symptoms of a stroke? That is what clues does your body give you that you might be having a stroke? First, dizziness is so important. Any dizziness, which persists for hours in a row or intermittently for several days, should be evaluated by a doctor. Second, is numbness in the face, arms or legs. Third, weakness in the face muscles, arms or legs. Fourth, is difficulty swallowing. Fifth, is trouble talking. Sixth, blurred vision. If you have any of these signs or symptoms you should see a doctor or go to a hospital immediately for evaluation.
People often ask, why should I go to the hospital immediately if there is nothing they can do once a stroke has started? The answer is that in the past several years new potent medications are available in many places of the world, including China, which can break up a clot caused by a stroke. This medication to be effective though must be given within two hours of onset of the stroke.
Wait a second you say! What causes a stroke? There are actually several types of strokes. The most common is where a part of a blood vessel in the brain gets stopped up by a hardened part called a plaque or hardening of the arteries. This makes it hard for blood to flow through the artery. When blood cannot go through the artery to brain cells then the brain cells die and a stroke results.
Strokes are also caused by a blood clot, which moves from the heart to the brain. The third and final cause is a blood vessel which has a small sack which breaks in the brain and blood leaks out. Both of these are not as common as the first cause mentioned. Your doctor will tell you which one is the one you have and how they should be treated. All strokes are NOT treated the same.
If a family member or I has a stroke will the weakness or trouble talking or other problems ever go away? E.g. Zhang Wei Ping’s did not go away. Often they do and often they do not. It is very hard to tell who will get better or worse. A rule of thumb though is that the longer it takes for symptom to resolve, e.g. a weak leg, the less likely that the symptom will resolve over time.
How can a person be treated AFTER a stroke? First, all of the risk factors previously mentioned must be looked at and treated, that is if you have one which is abnormal. For example if you smoke you should stop or if your blood pressure is high you should get it better controlled. Second, discuss with your doctor about the medications, if any you should be on after your stroke. Unlike Zhang Wei Ping do not stop your medications for any reason without discussing with a doctor. Third, exercise daily the parts of your body, which are weak from the result of the stroke. Finally, many people are depressed after a stroke. It is a hard time. Seek help from your doctor.
However, regardless of what modern or even ancient medical science has to offer, they cannot give you happiness. The Bible that showed Zhang Wei Ping how to have eternal life also says to all of us, ‘I (that is Jesus Christ) have come that you may have life and have life more abundantly (John 10.10).’ Only through Jesus Christ can we have true and meaningful life now and forever.
Like Zhang Wei Ping you too can have eternal life both know and forever more. Jesus Christ said, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son (that is Jesus) that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3.16).’ You can have this eternal life by putting your trust in Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord. However, you do not have to wait for a major health problem to do this, that is like Zhang Wei Ping. You can ask Jesus Christ into your heart right now and ask for forgiveness of sins and for him to come into your life right now.
Would you do that now? If so then please repeat this prayer after me. ‘Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner before you and that I have done wrong. Please come into my life and save me from my sins. I believe that you died for my own sins on the Cross, that you were buried after your death but that you rose from the grave to conquer death.’ If you prayed this prayer right now then Jesus Christ has just come into your life and you are a child of God forever. Blessings and congratulations on the most important decision you could ever make in your life.