Services & Specialties May 14, 2019

Knowing stroke warning signs could save your life

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. It only takes 12 minutes for a pea-size portion of the brain to die during a stroke. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the risk for permanent disability and death.

However, did you know that more than 80 percent of strokes are preventable?

Strokes can be one of the most devastating emergency conditions that can strike. But they don’t have to be. Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke, and getting care quickly gives you the best possibility of restoring full health. 

Adena Regional Medical Center is certified as a Primary Stroke Center and has an established protocol that provides best results for patients to greatly reduce chances of disability. In 2017, more than 180 stroke patients were treated by Adena Health System’s Neurologists.

When a stroke patient arrives in the emergency room, Adena’s goal is to ensure a provider sees the patient within 10 minutes. Tests and scan will be done and results will be read within 45 minutes. 

What is a stroke?

A stroke is essentially a brain attack that occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off and causes lack of oxygen to brain tissue. 

When brain cells do not get oxygen, they die, It’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. A delay in treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage or even death.

Risk Factors? 

Anyone can have a stroke, at any age, at any time. However, there are certain things that can increase your chances of having a stroke. The best way to protect yourself or a loved one from a stroke is to understand the risks. 

Medical Risk Factors:

  • High Blood Pressure:  High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. It occurs when the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels is too high. There are often no symptoms of high blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked often, and if you have high blood pressure, lowering your blood pressure through lifestyle changes or medicine can lower your risk for stroke.
  • High Cholesterol: If we take in more cholesterol than our bodies can use, extra cholesterol can build up in the arteries, including those in the brain. This can lead to narrowing of the arteries, causing a stroke or other problems. A blood test can tell your doctor if you have high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (a related kind of fat) in your blood.
  • Heart Disease: Coronary artery disease can increase your risk of stroke. This is a result of plaque build-up in the arteries, which can block the flow of oxygen to the brain. Other heart conditions, such as heart valve defects, and enlarged heart chambers, can cause blood clots that may break loose and cause a stroke.

 Life Style Risk Factors: 

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking, along with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes, tops the list as a primary risk factor for heart disease. In fact, smoking is the single most preventable stroke risk.
  • Physical Activity:  Not getting up and moving can increase your risk of becoming overweight, developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Going on a brisk walk, taking the stairs and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can decrease your riskfor cardiovascular disease or stroke. 
  • Diet:A heart-healthy diet can reduce your chance of stroke.A heart-healthy and well-balanced diet includes eating more servings of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and lean meats; while eating less servings of processed foods including fried foods, lunch meats, chips and cookies. 

How can I prevent a stroke? 

Most strokes can be prevented by keeping medical conditions under control and making positive lifestyle changes. Once these factors have been identified, it is best to work with your health care provider to establish how you can reduce your risk. A good place to start is to know your ABCS of heart health: 

  • Aspirin: Aspirin may help lower your risk for stroke.
  • Blood Pressure: Control your blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol: Control your cholesterol.
  • Smoking: Quit smoking or don’t start.

Recognize and Respond 

 Recognize: What are Symptoms of a Stroke? 

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding 
  • Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of coordination
  • Sever headache with unknown cause 

Respond: What to do if you expect stroke?

Knowing your risk factors is only half the battle. Strokes can happen suddenly, anytime and anywhere. If you think you or someone else may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. 

  • F- Face 

            Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their 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. Is their speech slurred? 

  • T-Time 

            If you see any of these signs call 9-1-1 right away.

Strokes can come on suddenly and progress rapidly, causing permanent disability if not treated quickly. If a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, it might be tempting to drive him or her to the emergency department. However, calling 9-1-1 is your loved one’s best chance for survival. 

Stroke Treatment at Adena Health System 

Adena understands that like our patients, every stroke is different. Adena offers many therapy and recovery options for those who have survived a stroke. 

Adena’s Stroke Team includes: neurologists, emergency physicians, nurses, social workers, rehabilitation experts, hospitalists and radiology and lab technicians. Whether you or a loved one is in need of physical, occupational or speech therapy, Adena’s dedicated team of providers is here for you. 

Thanks to telemedicine, Adena’s neurologists can also videoconference with physicians at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center when a second opinion is needed. 

To learn more about Adena’s Neurology and Stroke Services, visit adena.org/stroke or call 740-779-4589.