Stroke: Be Prepared to Act Fast!

Stroke: Be Prepared To Act Fast

MMH’s Neurologist offers community program on the signs and symptoms of stroke.

Stroke comes from a Greek word meaning to be struck down, and that is pretty much what happens. Suddenly, you find yourself unable to walk, talk or even smile as you did before. It is a medical emergency.
As with any emergency, time is of the essence, but with early identification and timely treatment in the Emergency Room, the worst effects of most strokes can be avoided. If you or a family member is at risk of a stroke, you can prepare yourself to act rapidly by learning as much as you can about strokes and your risk of having one.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. But while the heart attack mortality rate has fallen considerably over the past few decades, stroke deaths have not declined nearly as much. This is probably because Americans are generally less knowledgeable about strokes-what causes them, risk factors, warning signs and possible consequences.
Massena Memorial Hospital’s Neurologist, Kejian Tang, will be offering a community program on the sign and symptoms of stroke Thursday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the hospital board room.
A stroke is basically a brain attack. It occurs, in most cases, because normal blood flow to the brain has been blocked because of diseased blood vessels and/or a blood clot. This is known as an ischemic stroke, accounting for about 80 to 90 percent of cases.
Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association asks all Americans to learn two things that may save a life.

  1. Know if you are at risk for stroke.
  2. Know the stroke warning signs and what to do in a stroke emergency.

“Knowing if you are at risk for stroke is highly important, because many risk factors can be modified and controlled,” said Kejian Tang, M.D., MMH Neurologist. “The number one stroke risk factor is high blood pressure. It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly and talk to your doctor about healthy levels for you.”

Suspect A Stroke? Together to End Stroke teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people to recognize a stroke and what to do if one occurs:

  • F...face weakness and/or  numbness
  • A...arm weakness and/or numbness
  • S...speech problems
  • T...time to call 911; time is brain

“Prevention is the best cure, but in the event of a stroke emergency, quick recognition and treatment may have a dramatic impact on the outcome,” said Dr. Tang. “If you are at risk for stroke or spend time with someone who is, learning and sharing the stroke warning signs should be a priority.”

Additional stroke signs include: sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.

Being prepared means understanding that a stroke can occur at any time and that it is a major medical emergency requiring rapid action; seek medical attention immediately. During a stroke, 32,000 brain cells die every second until treatment occurs

Symptoms are sometimes dramatic but not always. In fact, the person having a stroke may not know it or may be in denial. Paul could not get out of bed without rolling out onto the floor; yet he insisted that "I'm going to be okay." Fortunately, his wife knew better.

To help you remember the warning signs, the commonly used acronym is BE FAST.

  • Balance: The patient experiences a sudden loss of balance or coordination.
  • Eyes: Some patients have temporary loss of sight in one or both eyes. But any sudden change in vision should be taken seriously.
  • Face: Sudden weakness in the face, sometimes resulting in drooping on one side of the face is a common sign. As a test, ask the person to smile; if she can't, call 911.
  • Arms: The patient is likely to have sudden weakness or numbness of the arms or legs, usually on one side. This may make it difficult or impossible to walk or carry out routine tasks.
  • Speech: may be slurred or you may speak gibberish. Another test: say a simple phrase and ask the person to repeat it. If she can't, call 911.
  • Time: is of the essence. If you see or experience any of these signs yourself, ca1l 911 immediately.

Other signs include sudden confusion, dizziness or severe headache with no known cause.
One of the most powerful warning signs is a mini-stroke. This usually involves one of the above symptoms such as facial weakness or loss of vision that passes within a short time.

Don't just ignore it or pretend that it hasn't happened, seek medical attention immediately. For some reason, stroke doesn't invoke the same fear that is associated with the other two major killers, heart attack and cancer. Yet, of those three, stroke carries the lowest risk of survival. About 15 percent die shortly after the stroke; another 10 percent, within the first year.

To learn more, join us at the MMH community program presented by Neurologist, Kejian Tang, on the signs and symptoms of stroke Thursday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the hospital board room. For more information or to pre-register, please call MMH Public Relations at 769-4262.

 

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