UHS experts urge stroke awareness
May is Stroke Awareness Month across the country, and medical experts at UHS in Greater Binghamton urge people to be aware of stroke symptoms - in themselves and those around them.
Stroke isn't just your grandparents' disease. Women and men of all ages are at risk of stroke, with more than 750,000 Americans suffering the condition each year. Unfortunately, a high percentage of people surveyed recently couldn't recognize even one stroke symptom.
The good news is that as many as 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and there are specific steps you can take - including maintaining a healthy lifestyle - to increase your chances of preventing a stroke.
Reliable stroke-prevention guidelines include keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking and drinking in moderation.
Women especially are at higher risk of stroke if they are diabetic, pregnant, menopausal or on hormone replacement therapy, or if they have high blood pressure or get migraine headaches.
The most common signs and symptoms of a stroke are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding;
- Sudden trouble seeing in one eye or both eyes;
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination;
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
To simplify, just think FAST:
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; does the speech sound slurred or strange?
TIME - If you observe or experience any of these signs, it’s time to call 911.
UHS Wilson Medical Center is designated a stroke center by the New York State Department of Health, meaning that the medical center meets or exceeds the state’s standards of care for people who suffer strokes.
To qualify, UHS Wilson complied with 31 criteria, such as having an experienced clinical staff, stroke unit, neurosurgery program and neuroimaging services.
Most 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 signs of stroke symptoms.