May is National Stroke Awareness month. In order to help the community understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States, OSF Saint James – John W. Albrecht Medical Center will be providing blood pressure screenings along with important stroke and other health information, on Thursday, May 22, in the hospital main lobby from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies from a stroke,” said Mary Heath, Director of Education at OSF Saint James. “The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery.”
Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.
“If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST – F-A-S-T,” said Dr. Benjamin Kemp, Medical Director of Emergency Services for OSF Saint James. “F is for face - is your face drooping? A is for arms – can you lift both arms? S is for speech – are you slurring your words and T is for time, call 9-1-1 immediately because with stroke, time is brain. It’s important to go to the nearest emergency room right away.”
The primary stroke symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or facial drooping
- Sudden numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes. An acute ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction, such as a blood clot, blocks blood flow to the brain. The obstruction deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying valuable nerve cells in the affected area within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties.
Treatment may be available if you get to the emergency room immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risk factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce your stroke risk.
For more information about stroke services available through OSF, go to www.osfsaintjames.org/services/neurosciences.