May is Stroke Awareness Month.

May is Stroke Awareness Month.  Learn what to do from Dr. Erik Miller of Memorial’s Emergency Department if you think someone is having a stroke.  Tuesday morning at 8:15 on KIT radio.


The statistics

  • The American Stroke Association says stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.  In Washington State, it’s the sixth leading cause of death.
  • A stroke occur when blood flow is restricted to parts of the brain, either due to a blockage (ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Within three to four minutes, the portions of the brain without blood flow can begin to die, causing irreparable damage.
  • Time is the greatest hurdle doctors face in treating stroke.


The Problem:  Too many people become disabled or die because they don’t get treatment in time

  • Most strokes (80 percent) are caused by clots. In 2008, only 4 percent of this type of stroke was given the best treatment – the clot-busting drug tPA.
  • Often people having a heart attack or stroke are transported to the nearest hospital, only to be transferred to another hospital for treatment. Access to resources for diagnosing and treating heart attacks and strokes varies, especially in rural areas.


When you think someone may be having a stroke

  • Remember to act F-A-S-T and call 911 if you have new symptoms or see someone else having them.
  • Face – uneven smile, facial droop or numbness, sudden change in the way you see.
  • Arm and leg-weakness, numbness, difficulty walking
  • Speech – slurred, wrong words, or unable to speak
  • Time – Call 911 immediately; then, check the time so you will know when the first symptoms started.


Lowering your risk for a stroke:

  • Appropriate Aspirin Therapy, ask your doctor if taking Aspirin is right for you
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol Management
  • Quit Smoking, for help call 1-800-QUIT-NOW
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sodium
  • Limit your alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women)


Resources at Memorial to treat stroke:

  • Access to specialists including:  neurologists, emergency medicine physicians,  nurses specially trained in stroke care, clinical pharmacists, case managers, rehabilitation specialists
  • Telestroke

Partnership with Seattle-based Swedish Hospital Neurosciences Institute

There is 24/7, around-the-clock access to nationally recognized stroke team experts via real-time, telemedicine-based technology. With the help of a secure, video-conferencing network, members of the Stroke Team are able to quickly perform ‘virtual’ bedside neurological evaluations that allow them to examine patients, review brain images and quickly select the best acute stroke treatments in collaboration with our own emergency physicians.

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