According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 129,000 people each year. On average, one American suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies from stroke every four minutes.
Stroke is also a major cause of long-term disability. Stroke costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
Amy Jarvis, director of critical care at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, is a certified stroke registered nurse and coordinator of the hospital’s Stroke Team. Lawrence Memorial Hospital is certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. This two-year certification recognizes the hospital’s stroke program as a center of excellence in providing primary care for stroke patients.
Jarvis stresses how important it is for someone experiencing the symptoms of stroke to get medical help immediately.
“Patients who arrive in the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms tend to have less disability three months after their stroke than those people with delayed treatment,” she notes, citing the current evidence-based standard of care.
Would you be able to recognize the signs of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack, also known as a TIA or mini-stroke, if someone you knew was having one? The chance of surviving a stroke or of having lessened disability is greatly reduced when early emergency care is received. For some qualifying stroke patients, there are treatments that must be started within three hours of the onset of symptoms.
It is important to learn these and seek help immediately by calling 911 if someone is experiencing any one of the following stroke signs. Learn the acronym BE FAST.
B = balance. Has the person suddenly lost their balance?
E = eyes. Is there a loss of vision in one or both eyes?
F = face. Is there sudden numbness, weakness or droopiness of the face especially on one side?
A = arm. Does one arm drift or hang down?
S = speech. Does the person have trouble speaking or seem confused?
T = time. The American Stroke Association says “time lost is brain lost” so call 911 immediately.
A stroke affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. There are two major types of stroke. An ischemic stroke happens when an obstruction such as a clot occurs within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. This type of stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all stroke cases.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds. The most common cause of this type of stroke is uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure). A TIA, or mini-stroke, is caused by a temporary clot and is a serious warning sign of a potential stroke.
The risk of having a stroke does increase with advancing age but about 20 percent of strokes occur in those under age 55.
There are several risk factors for stroke, some controllable and some not. Learn these risk factors at stroke.org. Some of the uncontrollable risk factors include age, ethnicity, gender and family personal medical history. Many other risk factors are controllable through medical care. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, circulation problems and carotid artery disease.
It is important to know that many strokes could be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, controlling weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all important measures to take to reduce the risk of stroke.
Plan to attend the November Senior Supper and Seminar event on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at LMH. Dr. Paul Loney of Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates will present about “Recognizing a Stroke.”
On the third Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m., senior adults are invited to come and dine at LMH for $5.50 and enjoy a healthy three-course meal prepared by the LMH Unidine chefs, plus conversation with others. At 6 p.m., there is a short educational program on a health or wellness topic. Reservations are required for the supper and must be made at least 24 hours in advance by calling LMH Connect Care at 785-505-5800 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Seating is limited for both the supper and seminar so please enroll early. The seminar portion is open to adults of all ages.
—Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at email@example.com.