Knowing the Signs, Symptoms of Stroke Could Save a LifeApr 15, 2021
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time to promote public awareness and reduce the incidence of stroke in the United States. Many are familiar with strokes and the devastating effects they can have on victims. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. However, strokes can be preventable with healthy lifestyle choices and knowing your risk.
San Ramon Regional Medical Center is certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and has earned its Gold Seal of Approval. Part of the Contra Costa County Stroke System, launched in 2012, our Emergency Department is a stroke receiving center for the county and provides rapid diagnosis and treatment. The Stroke System is a coordinated 911 emergency response, linking patients to trained emergency medical providers who identify stroke victims and rapidly transport them to designated stroke-certified hospitals within the critical treatment time window. This teamwork is known to significantly reduce brain damage and save lives. Every minute counts when someone is experiencing a medical emergency such as a stroke or heart attack, and our team is able to provide those patients with immediate attention.
When it comes to stroke, here are five key facts from the American Stroke Association:
- Stroke kills brain cells, it happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die.
- Types of stroke – Ischemic is caused by a clot, Hemorrhagic is caused by a rupture and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary blockage.
- About one in four stroke survivors is at risk for another. Fortunately, up to 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable.
- Prevention is key. Had a stroke? Create a plan with your doctor to prevent another, which may include managing high blood pressure and discussing aspirin or other medicine. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
- Time lost is brain lost. BE FAST is a good way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, and it’s a reminder to get help quickly. Every minute counts when it comes to having a better outcome and recovery. Here’s how to recognize symptoms of a stroke for yourself or someone close to you:
B – Balance – Is there a loss of balance, coordination or trouble walking?
E – Eyes – Is it difficult to see in one or both eyes?
F – Face – When the person smiles, does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms – Does one arm drift down when the person raises both arms?
S – Speech – Is speech strange or slurred?
T – Time – Don’t wait to call 9-1-1 if you see any of the above signs.
Additional symptoms of a stroke may include sudden:
- Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body – face, arm or leg
- Confusion in speech – understanding or speaking
- Extreme headache – unknown cause
There are some risk factors for stroke that we can’t control including age, race, family history, gender and prior stroke or heart attack.
To help prevent strokes from occurring, the American Stroke Association recommends the following to achieve ideal health:
- Don’t smoke
- Be physically active
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Control cholesterol
- Control blood pressure
- Reduce blood sugar