May is Stroke Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

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In honor of Stroke Awareness Month, St. Elizabeth Healthcare is proud to announce that five St. Elizabeth Stroke Centers have been re-accredited by the Joint Commission for excellence in stroke care: Edgewood, Florence, Ft. Thomas, Grant and Covington. What does re-accreditation mean for those we serve in the TriState community? John Webb, MD, Neurologist at St. Elizabeth Physicians, weighs in.

“Patients can be assured that our St. Elizabeth Stroke Centers are committed to excellence in stroke care,” says Dr. Webb. “Our Primary Stroke Centers have instituted a framework to improve clinical outcomes in patients who have had a stroke, including a consistent approach to evaluating and treating stroke patients.”

During a stroke, every second counts. That’s why quick access to leading-edge stroke care can be a lifesaver.

Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

If you or a loved one have ever experienced a stroke, you know firsthand that it can be a harrowing experience. According to the CDC, almost 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year – and every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the United States. Stroke is also the primary cause of long-term disability, especially in patients ages 65 and older.

While these statistics can seem grim, there is a silver lining: quick access to stroke-centered medical care can be the difference between life and death – or long-term disability.

“During a stroke, quick action is important as treatments for a stroke are time-dependent,” says Dr. Webb. “The quicker stroke treatment is given, the chances of preserving brain tissue increases and the chance of disability lessens.”

Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can help you take action. Stroke signs and symptoms can include:

· Bad headache.

· Confusion.

· Loss of balance.

· Numbness.

· Suddenly uncoordinated.

· Vision changes.

If you or a loved one are experiences the sudden onset of any of the following symptoms, it’s important to get help quickly. Use the BE FAST acronym to assess the situation:

· Balance: sudden difficulty with balance.

· Eyes: blurry vision, sudden loss of sight.

· Face: one side of the face droops when smiling.

· Arms: weak or numb arm.

· Speech: slurred speech or difficult to understand.

· Time: time to call 911

The St. Elizabeth Stroke Centers work collaboratively with the University of Cincinnati Stroke Team to immediately assess patients for signs and symptoms of an acute stroke. The team quickly determines whether a stroke is caused by ischemia (not enough blood flow to the brain) or due to bleeding.

“If patients are eligible, they can receive IV tPA or “clot-busting” medicine to help reduce the impact of a stroke,” says Dr. Webb. “The team can also determine whether or not an intervention can be used to remove clots in large blood vessels in the brain.”

Stroke Risk Factors

Is it possible to prevent a stroke? Not exactly – but you can significantly lower your risk factors of having a stroke.

You can modify and control risk factors through diet, exercise, or medication. These include:

· Being overweight.

· Diabetes.

· Excessive alcohol use.

· Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).

· Hypertension (high blood pressure).

· Sedentary lifestyle.

· Tobacco use/smoking.

If you’re interested in lowering your stroke risk factors, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Together you can create a plan to help you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Comprehensive Stroke Care, Close to Home

Learn about St. Elizabeth Healthcare stroke services and remember – if you or a loved one is experiencing stroke symptoms, BE FAST and call 911 for immediate assistance.