In Washington, two young women who have survived a stroke share their stories in the hope of persuading them to control their blood pressure.

Lisa Marie Westbrook has admitted to denying warnings about high blood pressure. But seven years ago, at the age of 40, he suffered an ischemic stroke and lost the ability to walk and speak.

After a long period of rehabilitation, he regained these skills. Today, Westbrook says one arm is still weak, but he has made changes to his diet, used prescription medications, walked regularly, and controlled his blood pressure at home.

Westbrook, a mother of three in Spokane, said: “Before I had a stroke, I knew I had high blood pressure, but I didn’t realize it was so uncontrollable.” In 2015, doctors diagnosed her with high blood pressure and a possible stroke.

“When I had a stroke, it was 237 out of 156,” he said.

According to the American Heart Association, almost 50% of adult women have high blood pressure, and most of them are uncontrolled. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the strength of the blood flowing through the arteries is always too high.

“High blood pressure is a major cause of stroke,” the doctor said. Ken Isaacs, medical director of the Providence Spokane Neuroscience Institute, in a data release. According to him, blood pressure is controlled. At home, people can use their cuffs to control their blood pressure and eat properly, reduce salt intake, improve their mental health, and exercise regularly.

Blood pressure consists of two numbers – systolic pressure above diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the force of blood in the arteries during a heartbeat, and diastolic pressure is the force at rest of the heart. Healthy numbers are considered to be below 120 systolic pressure and less than 80 diastolic pressure.

“I had high blood pressure for many years, but like many people, I did not have access to health care; I’ll do it now, “Westbrook said.” I used to be told, ‘You’re going to have a stroke because your blood pressure is so high.’

When she arrived, a daughter who had just graduated from school was at home.

“I felt a tingling sensation in my brain and immediately stopped using my hands and feet,” he said. “If my daughter hadn’t been home, I probably would have died.”

Medical professionals gave him a tPA, a tissue plasminogen activator, which is given within a few hours after a stroke to restore blood flow if a blood clot forms.

“I had to learn to walk again and use my hands, but since the tPA was fast on board, I was able to do it. However, today I try to think of words, but I can’t, so it takes a few minutes. ”

Andrea Engfer, 36, who suffered a stroke five days after giving birth to her daughter Emma, ​​did not have high blood pressure and is now 2. A Tacoma resident was diagnosed with preeclampsia late in her pregnancy. stroke. Preeclampsia is defined as an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy.

“My husband and I didn’t understand how the stroke happened,” Enfer said. “I never knew much about preeclampsia.”

Although pregnancy-related strokes are rare, the rate is rising, says the AHA. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked or a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.

The couple found information and statistics on goredforwomen.org, including women with preeclampsia who are more likely to develop hypertension and diabetes later in life. Studies show that the presence of the disease increases the risk of heart failure.

“I was amazed at that,” Engfer said. “I didn’t know it was an opportunity.”

In his last meetings before April 13, he noticed that his blood pressure was high. The doctor recommended an early delivery, and Emma was born on April 3rd

.

Five days later, he felt a severe migraine and shortness of breath like no other. Although he had had a headache since he was 12 years old, it was different.

“It felt like my head was going to explode,” he said.

“Other stroke survivors have described it, but it felt like the worst stroke of your life. That’s how I can explain it to people.

“I don’t know what my blood pressure was like before the stroke. I think it was still elevated, because on the day of my stroke, when my husband took me to the ambulance, my blood pressure rose to 200 and exceeded 130. I didn’t answer. ”

He was taken to hospital. In the picture, blood flowed to the brain, which turned into a stroke. Doctors operated to stop the bleeding.

“They put me in a medical coma,” he said. “Every day, my husband was worried about waking up. It’s been 12 days since I woke up. ”

At home, the husband would hold his daughter upright. She said that since then, doctors have told her that severe headaches and hearing impairments are important signs for a mother to seek medical attention.

“I could have listened to my body because I wouldn’t have had a stroke, or maybe I would have gone to the hospital earlier,” he said.

Engfer’s right eye is still poor. He had to learn to read, write, speak, and walk.

“My memory is deteriorating and I have serious cognitive problems, so it’s been a long way,” he said.

She is seen as helping her husband, Martin, and her family.

Engfer said he will focus on his physical and mental health because he wants to be with his family for many more years. He has a heart condition in his family.

“As a family, we take care of our health, eat right and exercise,” he said.

“I have lost 40 kilograms since January. Last year I started seeing a therapist. It helped me a lot because I didn’t really pay attention to my mental health because I was busy seeing doctors and my daughter. … But the day after I celebrated my one-year anniversary last year, I had a seizure. This was my first seizure; it was scary. I thought I had another stroke. ”

Seeing a therapist on a weekly basis helped to alleviate her anxiety. Women are often busy, caring for others and neglecting themselves, she said. Among them was Engfer.

“It is very important that all women, including pregnant women, know their blood pressure levels and try to keep them within their health range,” she said.

“I had to say to myself, ‘I need to take care of myself.’ I needed to understand that I was not selfish, I just wanted to live longer. I want to be with the people I love the most, so I have to work mentally, physically and emotionally.

“Everything that has happened in the last two years with the pandemic has been difficult,” he said. I want to make sure we take care of ourselves. ”

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