(5/31/11) - About 795,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year, yet most people in the U.S. cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors. Many strokes – some studies indicate that up to 80 percent – can be prevented through risk factor management.
There is no doubt that more education about stroke is needed. According to the National Stroke Association, public awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors has not improved during the past five years.
Symptoms of stroke are:
· Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs, especially on one side of the body
· Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
· Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
· Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
· Severe headaches with no known cause
"For the best outcome, it is important to dial 9-1-1 and come to the Emergency Department as soon as symptoms start. The most critical time in treating a stroke is the first 3 hours after the onset of symptoms. When it comes to stroke, time lost is brain lost. The longer it takes a stroke patient to receive care, the greater the chances of permanent disability or even death," said Teresa Sapp, RN, Director of Critical Care Services at McLeod Dillon.
As a partner in the REACH Stroke Network, specialized stroke consultations are delivered to the McLeod Regional Medical Center and McLeod Medical Center Dillon physicians and nurses caring for stroke patients. This system allows the physicians to diagnose and treat stroke patients with the latest therapies quickly and without delays.
On July 8, 2010, Dillon resident Ronald Turbeville celebrated his 51st birthday. On that day, he also suffered from a stroke. "I was cutting the grass late in the afternoon," Ronald recalls. "After becoming extremely hot and nauseated, he went inside and sat down to cool off. When I sat on the couch, I fell over to my left, and I could not get myself back up. I used my cell phone to call friends that were close by. After repeated tries, I was still unable to sit up on the couch; I kept falling to the left. I also noticed that I could not lift my left arm and that it would drift downward."
While his speech wasn't impacted, Ronald's friends and family noticed the left side of his face drooped. "I was very confused," said Ronald. "I was not able to use my peripheral vision and could also see things right in front of me."
Once his family and friends saw that Ronald could not maintain his balance, they called 9-1-1. Ronald arrived in the McLeod Dillon Emergency Department more than three hours after the onset of his symptoms, where he was diagnosed with having a stroke.
"Once he arrived in the McLeod Dillon Emergency Department, he was immediately treated," said Jennie Turbeville, Ronald's sister. "They acted quickly, were courteous and friendly, and assured us that they were there to take excellent care of him," Jennie explained. "The efficiency of the McLeod Dillon Emergency Department was obvious. The collaboration of the staff showed a high level of teamwork. Tests were performed in a timely manner. The staff cared for us as if they were a part of our family. They were concerned. We are glad McLeod Dillon was here to take care of Ronald," said Jennie.
"Today, I am a stroke survivor. I still do not have use of my left leg or arm, I am improving each day," said Ronald.
National Stroke Association offers a free Stroke Awareness Resource Center with downloadable stroke educational information, graphics and ways to get involved in raising awareness. Learn more at www.stroke.org/awareness.
Did You Know?
Stroke kills two times more women annually than breast cancer.
Stroke is largely preventable. It helps to manage risk factors, including high blood pressure, weight, alcohol consumption, smoking, diabetes and more. Get a free risk factor scorecard at www.stroke.org/risk and discuss the results with a healthcare professional.
Stroke is an emergency! It's important to learn stroke warning signs and how to respond to them. Emergency treatment may be available if a stroke is recognized FAST and 9-1-1 is called. Use the FAST test to remember warning signs:
Face - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time - If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.