According to the American Stroke Association, stroke threatens millions of lives; one occurring every 40 seconds and taking a life approximately every four minutes. Although largely preventable, treatable and beatable, stroke can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time. Killing nearly 130,000 people each year, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S.
Throughout the month of May, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and the Gazette are partnering to bring you tips on stroke prevention and risk factors, as well as feature stories of local stroke survivors and the physicians who helped save their lives. Penrose-St. Francis was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.
Also known as cerebrovascular accident or insult, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and resulting in damaged brain cells. While some risk factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history are uncontrollable, other risk factors are manageable. These risk factors include high cholesterol, transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions—such as atrial fibrillation.
As many as 80 percent of strokes are preventable and taking control is key to managing your risk. Many people are not familiar with the warning signs of stroke or what to do when one happens. Stroke is an emergency and acting quickly can tremendously reduce the impact of stroke.
The American Stroke Association and Penrose-St. Francis suggest keeping the acronym F.A.S.T. as a guide in the event of a potential stroke:
F= Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A= Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S= Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T= Time If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 9-1-1.
Emergency medical services do an incredible job getting patients to the hospital in a timely manner; the sooner a patient is brought in, the faster they can receive acute care. The earlier doctors can help, the more choices they have and the probability of recovery increases.
Visit www.penrosestfrancis.org/stroke to take a personal stroke risk assessment and to learn more about the warning signs of stroke and the Penrose-St. Francis physicians who help save lives in our community. Follow along this month for more information on keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and stroke-free.