May is stroke awareness month

Special to the NewsMay 19, 2017 

Matt Lammers

We have all heard medical professionals talk about stroke, but do you really know the facts?

An estimated 795,000 Americans will have a stroke each year, with a stroke occurring every 40 seconds. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the No. 1 cause of disability. Of the 7 million stroke survivors in the USA, approximately two-thirds of them are disabled. During a stroke, brain cells die at a rate of 32,000 per second. Seeking quick treatment is the key to survival and reducing disability.

Stroke is a process that affects the blood vessels leading to and within the brain. You could essentially call a stroke a “brain attack.” The most common type of stroke is from a blockage in a blood vessel. This type of stroke is called ischemic.

The blockage could be from a clot that forms in the brain or a clot that formed somewhere else in the body and traveled to the brain. A transient ischemic attack, also called a mini stroke, is from a blockage that re-opens spontaneously. Symptoms from a TIA will typically last less than 1 hour.

The least common type of stroke is from bleeding in or around the brain. This type of stroke is called hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic strokes carry a larger risk of death than ischemic strokes.

How do you know if you are having a stroke? The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have developed the slogan, Act F.A.S.T. to detect the most common signs of stroke.

• F. The “F” stands for facial droop. Look in a mirror or ask the person to smile. Look for a crooked smile or drooping of one side of the face.

• A. The “A” stands for arms. Raise both arms out in front of you and look to see if one starts to fall.

• S. The “S” stands for speech. Are words slurred, mixed up, or not coming out quickly and correctly?

• T. The “T” stands for time. If any of these symptoms are present, then its time to call 911.

If you think you are having a stroke the most important thing is to quickly seek medical treatment. Dialing 911 will give you the best chance at arriving to a hospital fast and safe.

Treatments for ischemic stoke include medication called tPA, mechanical clot retrieval and rehabilitation. A patient is only eligible for tPA if they present to the hospital within 4.5 hours from the start of their symptoms. Hemorrhagic stroke treatment includes reducing swelling in the brain, controlling blood pressure, and aneurysm coiling and clipping.

Get to the hospital quickly for the best treatment options.

The best way to beat stroke is to prevent it. An estimated 80 percent of strokes are actually preventable. It is important to “know your numbers” so that you can reduce your risk of stroke. The numbers include: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body weight. Take all medication as prescribed by your doctor and schedule regular check ups to keep your numbers in the optimal range. Additionally, try to exercise or walk 30 minutes a day, don’t smoke, and decrease you intake of salty and fried foods.

The Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board is a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating the outcomes.

“Health is a state of complete mental, physical, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” World Health Organization

Matt Lammers RN, BSN, SCRN, Stroke and STEMI Coordinator at Saint Luke’s East Hospital, is a guest author for the Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board.

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