GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 137,000 people each year, and is a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. A stroke is a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time to educate the public and spread awareness about stroke prevention, symptom recognition and recovery. From 1996 to 2006, the number of stroke deaths fell by 18 percent. This year, the National Stroke Association and Northeast Georgia Medical Center hope to continue to reduce stroke deaths and disability by educating the public to recognize stroke symptoms, and to Act F.A.S.T. to save a life.
F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARM Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest
Many strokes can be treated. The FDA-approved treatment for ischemic (clot-caused) stroke is t-PA, a clot-busting drug that dissolves the blood clot and restores blood flow to the brain. For the drug to work effectively, t-PA must be given within three hours of the first sign of stroke symptoms. Acting F.A.S.T. is important because:
- For every minute that brain cells are deprived of oxygen during stroke, the likelihood of brain damage increases.
- Treatment can be more effective if given early on.
- TIA (transient ischemic attack) is a risk factor of stroke and a call to action to prevent a stroke.
There are many steps you can take to help prevent a stroke. The National Stroke Association’s Prevention Guidelines include keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking and drinking in moderation. Get a free risk factor scorecard at www.stroke.org/risk and discuss the results with a healthcare professional.
For more information about stroke symptoms, risk factors and prevention, visit www.stroke.org.About Stroke Care at Northeast Georgia Medical Center
Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) offers a comprehensive approach to stroke care, from early intervention treatments in the Emergency Room to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services to help patients regain function and independence. In February 2011, NGMC received the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®–Stroke Silver Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes NGMC’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations. In addition, NGMC’s inpatient rehabilitation unit was one of the first 20 in the nation to receive Stroke Specialty Certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).