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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May 03, 2019 03:56PM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

In May alone, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke with many unaware that they were even at risk.  Less than a third will arrive in the emergency room within three hours, the optimal time period for better outcomes.

May marks National Stroke Awareness Month, and Pioneer Memorial Hospital & Health Services is urging you to look at your stroke risk factors, and make at least one change to reduce your stroke risk.  Lifestyle factors that increase your risk of stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, heavy drinking, high salt and high fat diet and lack of exercise.

Beyond reducing your risk for stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are equally important.  Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke and around 800,000 people will have a stroke in the United States this year alone.  The acronym “BE FAST” is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of a stroke:

B – Balance: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

E – Eyesight:  Is the person having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?

F – Face:  Ask the person to smile.  Does one side of the 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 sentence.  Is their speech slurred?

T – Time:  If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Pioneer Memorial Hospital is part of the Sanford TeleStroke program with the goal to improve access to Stroke Care.  Through the use of interactive videoconferencing, TELESTROKE connects rural locations with a Sanford neurologist to help diagnose and treat stroke symptoms quickly.

Through the TeleStroke program, when a patient arrives at their local emergency department, and the emergency medical provider suspects a stroke, they will initiate videoconferencing with a Sanford neurologist.  A virtual real-time neurological exam is performed remotely, and the neurologist communicates with the patient via video; while watching their movement and reviewing brain images. The neurologist will provide diagnosis and recommend the next steps.  Together, the neurologist, emergency medical provider and patient / caregiver, will decide on the best treatment.

The need for public awareness surrounding stroke prevention and awareness has never been greater.  Despite being a leading cause of adult long-term disability, and the 5th leading cause of death, less than one in five Americans can correctly classify stroke symptoms.  The time to take action is now. This May, during National Stroke Awareness month, get to know your stroke risk factors and learn to better identify the signs and symptoms of stroke.  The life you save just might be your own!