BY BARRY WARNER
Suffern – A free, comprehensive “Stoke Up-Close” education program took place at the Regional Center Auditorium of Good Samaritan last week, featuring a series of stations manned by a team of hospital stroke experts who addressed the different aspects of stroke care and prevention.
Community attendees visited the stations, which including EMT, Emergency Room, Radiology, Pharmaceutical, Nutrition, Speech, Rehabilitation Nursing and Home Care, and learned how they and hospital staff can address different kinds of strokes. Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center is known for its stroke care, having been designated a Primary Stroke Center by The American Heart Association and receiving the Association’s “Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.”
According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke results when blood flow and oxygen are cut off from the brain. Strokes are a leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year.
Strokes are also a major cause of serious, long-term disability, with an estimated 7 million stroke survivors in the United States and about 795,000 strokes occurring this year alone. One stroke occurs every 40 seconds, killing a patient every 4 minutes.
Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death, so it is important to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and act F.A.S.T.:
1. F=Face…. ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
2. A=Arms…ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
3. S=Speech…ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred?
4. T=Time….if any of these signs are observed, call 9-1-1 immediately!
According to Radiology Technician Valerie Plesko, the first step in hospital care is often an emergency brain scan to determine where and why the stroke occurred.
“A C.T. scan is one of the first tests done in a stroke evaluation, particularly during an acute stroke in the emergency room,” Plesko said. “The test can show areas of abnormalities in the brain and can help to determine if these areas are caused by insufficient blood flow, called an ischemic stroke or a ruptured blood vessel, called a hemorrhagic stroke.”
Ischemic strokes constitute about 87 percent of all strokes while Hemorrhagic strokes account for 13 percent of all strokes. However, hemorrhages are responsible for a disproportionate number of deaths, with more than 30 percent of all stroke fatalities attributable to hemorrhages.
The type and degree of disability following a stroke will depend on which area of the brain was damaged. Symptoms may include paralysis, movement control problems, sensory disturbances, pain, aphasia (issues with the understanding or use of language), thinking, memory and emotional disturbances. Rehabilitation can help stroke victims re-learn skills lost to brain damage, helping them to regain as much independence and quality of life as possible.
Stroke risk factors include previous strokes, TIA (“mini-strokes”), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease. Stroke risk can be controlled and managed with the help of a healthcare professional and with lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, regular exercise, proper diet and limited alcohol consumption.
For additional information on stroke prevention and treatment, call (845) 368-5637 or visit www.bschs.bonsecours.com