Beebe Healthcare and other advanced stroke centers around the country are diligently working to decrease disabilities caused by stroke, by providing 24/7 neurological emergency stroke services. This past year alone, they have treated more than 395 stroke emergencies. This is only a small part in the fight against this debilitating disease.
Stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in America; a staggering 425,000 women suffer from stroke each year. Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer every year. Although stroke affects more women than men, approximately 370,000 men suffer from stroke each year. It occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptures and brain cells don’t get the flow of blood that they need. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells can’t function and die within minutes. And when nerve cells don’t function, the part of the body they control can’t function either. The devastating effects of stroke are often permanent because dead brain cells can’t be replaced.
TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a “mini stroke” that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. About 15 percent of strokes are preceded by TIAs, so don’t ignore a TIA. Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention immediately.
There is good news about stroke; it’s largely preventable. Research has shown that people can reduce stroke risk by living a healthy lifestyle - controlling high blood pressure; not smoking; eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet; being physically active; maintaining a healthy body weight; managing diabetes; drinking moderately or not at all, etc. The other good news is that more than 5.8 million people who have had strokes are alive today. And much is being done to fight strokes.
For example, the FDA’s approval of the clot-dissolving drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat stroke is an advance because tPA can stop a stroke in progress and reduce disability. But to be eligible for tPA, one must seek emergency treatment right away and have a clot-caused stroke. Everyone in the community should learn to recognize a stroke because time lost is brain lost. At Beebe Healthcare the stroke team understands “time is brain.” Beebe Healthcare continues to increase our number of patients who receive tPA. Our neurologists and staff have an excellent diagnostic rate providing the correct diagnosis and treatment. Stroke symptoms include:
•Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Act fast and call 911 with any signs of stroke. Use FAST to remember the warning signs:
F= Face; ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
A= Arms; ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift down?
S= Speech; ask the person to repeat simple phrases. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T= Time; Time is brain, if you observe any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Note the time of the appearance of the first symptom. This information is important to the healthcare provider and can effect treatment decisions.
Learn more about stroke by:
• Talking to one's doctor, nurse or other healthcare professionals. Ask about other stroke topics.
• For more information about stroke, call the American Stroke Association at 1-888-4-STROKE; (1-888-478-7653) or go to StrokeAssociation.org.
• If someone has had a stroke, call the American Stroke Association’s “Warmline” at 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653) and:
• Speak with other stroke survivors and caregivers trained to answer questions and offer support.
• Get information on stroke support groups in the area.
• Sign up to get Stroke Connection, a free magazine for stroke survivors and caregivers.
Beebe Healthcare is committed to excellence and providing comprehensive stroke care. We have earned the highest recognition, “Gold Star Plus”, given by the American Stroke Association, for three years in a row. The Joint Commission has designated and accredited Beebe Healthcare as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.
Abraham Scheer, M.D. is medical director of Neurology & Stroke Services at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.