May is recognized National Stroke Month. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers 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?
What is a stroke?
A stroke is essentially a brain attack that occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off, causing a 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.
Stroke 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.
Just ask 89-year old Wendell Schaller, an Adena stroke patient.
“I was getting up to use the restroom when I felt my right side go limp,” explained Schaller. “I was able to reach for my cellphone and call my daughter for help. She called 9-1-1 and within minutes an ambulance was here to take me to the emergency room.”
Upon arriving to Adena’s Emergency Department, which is recognized as a Primary Stroke Center, Schaller was given a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), or more commonly known as a “clot buster.”
According to the American Stroke Association, tPA is a medication that dissolves blood clots and restores blood flow to the brain tissue. tPA has been approved to treat brain attacks and ischemic strokes, like Schaller’s, within the first three hours of stroke onset. If given promptly, symptoms resolve or show major improvement in stroke symptoms for one-in-three patients who receive tPA in time.
Because of his stroke, Schaller lost mobility in his right arm and leg, and experienced symptoms of facial droop and speech impairment. By acting fast, Schaller qualified for the clot buster treatment. He says it “saved his life.”
“The clot buster saved my life in more ways than one,” he said. “Not only am I alive today, I’m able to do all the things I was doing before the stroke.”
In just three short months, with minor home-based therapy and rehab, Schaller now has all feeling back in his right side. He is able to walk, cook and even drive again. Schaller is also able to continue to care for his wife Ruth, and play Bridge with his friends every Sunday night.
Stroke Risk Factors
Anyone can have a stroke, at any age, at any time. 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. Mr. Schaller is a great example of this.
For the majority of his life, Schaller served time as a U.S. Marine and worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “I have always had a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “Throughout my career, I was always active and ate healthy. However, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are both risk factors for a stroke. You can look healthy, feel healthy, but still have some underlining issues and not even know it.”
Medical Risk Factors:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Heart Disease
Life Style Risk Factors:
- Tobacco Use
- Physical Activity
Recognizing and Responding to Stroke
“My advice to everyone is to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and get help as soon as possible,” explained Schaller. “I knew when my right side was going numb, that I was indeed having a stroke.”
Recognize: What are Symptoms of a Stroke?
- Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side
- Confusion, trouble speaking
- 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.
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
Ask the person to raise both arms, Does one arm drift downward?
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred?
If you see any of these signs call 9-1-1 right away.
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 Regional Medical Center is certified as a Primary Stroke Center. As a Primary Stroke Center, Adena has an established protocol to provide the best results for patients arriving during or shortly after the onset of a stroke, greatly reducing their chance of disability. As a Primary Stroke Center, hospitals must demonstrate compliance with stroke-related standards and meet additional requirements. These include: advanced imaging capabilities; 24/7 availability of specialized treatments; and providing staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.
Led by Adena Neurologist Dr. Muhammad Akhtar, Adena’s Stroke Team has seen its tPA treatments triple since first being named a Primary Stroke Center in 2014.
When a stroke patient arrives in the Emergency Department, Adena’s goal is to ensure a provider sees the patient within 10 minutes. Tests and scans will be completed, with results read within 45 minutes.
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.