The Power to Prevent Stroke

Organization: Author:
Angie West, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, SCRN, ANVP, director, Stroke Program, MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute, Long Beach Memorial
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According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Knowing how to identify a stroke, learning the risk factors and recognizing and responding quickly to a stroke will help reduce the impact.

Signs & Symptoms
Even though strokes are the leading cause of long-term adult disability and the No.5 killer in America, many people aren’t able to recognize the signs and symptoms when stroke strikes. People also may not realize that with a stroke, time lost is brain (function) lost. When every minute counts, make sure you can recognize the signs of stroke with:

  • B: Balance Lost – Sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • E: Eyes Blur – Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • F: Face Drooping – One side of the face droops or is numb
  • A: Arm Weakness – Sudden weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • S: Speech Difficulty – Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • T: Time to Call 9-1-1 – Call 9-1-1 immediately (note the time the symptoms started)

Risk Factors
There are a multitude of risk factors that, if avoided or managed, can reduce your risk for stroke, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • A history of Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

Prevention

  • In addition to managing any previously diagnosed health conditions, you can prevent stroke and other diseases by following a healthier lifestyle, including:
  • Weight control – Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which can increase risk for stroke.
  • Exercise regularly – Your heart is a muscle, leading an active life can help it be stronger, and reduce the work it takes your heart to pump blood, effectively lowering your blood pressure.
  • Eat healthy – Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol can raise blood-cholesterol levels. Adding healthy fruits, vegetables and drinks to your diet improves your overall health and decreases your risk for stroke.
  • Stop smoking – Smoking doubles your risk for stroke when compared to a non-smoker. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, allowing blood clots to form more easily. It also increases the amount of buildup in the arteries, which may block the blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.

Reaction

A stroke is a medical emergency. The more time that passes between when a stroke starts and when a person receives treatment increases the chances for brain function to be permanently lost. This is why when a stroke strikes, it’s critical that the person experiencing symptoms receives medical attention and an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible.

The MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute at Long Beach Memorial is one of three hospitals in L.A. County to be awarded Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers by The Joint Commission. This means Long Beach Memorial provides patients with advanced treatment options and has a highly trained stroke team on-hand 24/7, making fast response times and positive outcomes a reality. For more information, visit MemorialCare.org/LBStroke or call (562) 933-4006