The acknowledgement of Stroke Awareness Month is a reminder that stroke is a serious disease that can affect anyone, at any age, and it is important to be aware of its symptoms and prevention.
“Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S, and it affects men and women alike,” said Dr. Lisa Scott, neurologist at MelroseWakefield Hospital. “In fact, about one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.”
Stroke affects the arteries leading to, and also within, the brain. A stroke occurs when blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain get obstructed by a clot or bursts. As a result, part of the brain cannot receive the blood and oxygen it needs, and brain cells begin to die.
“When a stroke occurs, immediate response is necessary, and that is why it is so important to know and understand the signs and symptoms that you or someone you are with may be having a stroke,” said Dr. Scott. Additionally, if a stroke is caught early, some of the symptoms can be reversed.
“When it comes to treating stroke, timing is extremely important,” said Dr. Scott. “Essentially, during a stroke there is a four and one half-hour window in which to get treatment with a strong blood thinning medication. Sometimes procedures can also be offered to remove clots in the brain. If appropriate treatment is delivered in that time, there is a chance of reversing the effects of the stroke.”
“The brain is an amazing thing,” said Dr. Scott. “Recovery varies from person to person, but if someone having a stroke is brought to an emergency department and treatment can be administered quickly, we can see things such as partial paralysis, face droop and loss of speech be reversed.”
tPA is a drug used to break up the clots that cause blockages or disruptions in the flow of blood to the brain, and which helps restore the blood flow to the area of the brain.
Knowing the signs can save a life.
The acronym BE FAST is a handy technique to help you quickly recognize common signs of a stroke. This outlines questions to ask about the telltale signs your friend or loved one may be having a stroke, plus action to take:
B – Balance – Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
E – Eyes – Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain?
F – Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
A – Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T – Time to call 911 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately
“The best way to prevent a stroke tomorrow, is to be living a healthy lifestyle today,” said Dr. Scott.
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, take all of the steps you need to take to manage them properly.
Visit and talk to your doctor. Take your prescribed medications and have your recommended lab work and screenings. Exercise, keep your weight down and eat a healthy diet.
If you smoke, stop!
MelroseWakefield Hospital is a community leader in the treatment of stroke, and is a designated Primary Stroke Service hospital by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It has been recognized by the American Heart Association with a Get With The Guidelines – Stroke SilverPlus award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment. The hospital has also been named as a top 100 Hospital for Stroke Care by Healthgrades, earned The Joint Commission’s Acute Stroke Ready Hospital Re-certification, and is a recipient of the prestigious Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program Defect-Free Care Award.
Tufts Medicine Formerly Wellforce