According to the World Health Organization, stroke is the number two cause of death worldwide. In fact, roughly 185,000 Americans die from stroke each year. May is Stroke Awareness Month and we’re dedicated to stroke education and awareness in order to change these statistics.
What is a stroke? Stroke is a broad term that describes a cutoff of blood flow to the brain. Brain cells deprived of oxygen begin to die and affect speech, movement and memory. Ninety percent of strokes are caused by a blood clot somewhere in the body that staunches the flow of blood.
The National Stroke Association estimates that 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by eliminating tobacco use, reducing alcohol consumption, improving diet and exercising.
Here are 5 things everyone needs to know about strokes.
- The Medical Risk Factors
Anyone can have a stroke, but individuals with high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol and circulation problems are at significantly higher risk. Fortunately, these are all controllable conditions.
- Other Risk Factors
Age is the number one risk factor for stroke. After the age of 55, the risk doubles every decade. Nonetheless, people of all ages suffer strokes.
African, Latino and Asian Americans all have higher incidences of stroke than Caucasians. Anyone with a nuclear family member who suffered a heart attack or stroke at a young age is also at higher risk.
- The FAST Response
Reducing the impact of a stroke requires recognition of the event and quick medical attention. To determine whether someone is having a stroke, apply the FAST test:
- Face – does it droop on one side when smiling?
- Arms – After raising both arms, does one drift downward?
- Speech – Is it slurred?
- Time – If the answer to any of these questions is yes, dial 911 immediately.
Note the time symptoms began. This is important information for the first responders.
- Stroke Care is Improving in Montana
A new procedure being used at Providence St. Patrick Hospital has nearly quadrupled the rate of full or nearly-full recovery from stroke. Called mechanical thrombectomy, it involves capturing the clot that causes the stroke with a highly engineered wire device and removing it from the body, much the way a plumber would snake a clogged drain.
St. Pat’s is the only hospital in the state equipped to perform this procedure. Other factors leading to the groundbreaking results are the hospital’s commitment to round-the-clock intervention availability, five physicians trained in clot retrieval on call and the presence of a telestroke diagnostic system.
This procedure only works on strokes caused by blockages in major arteries, but those strokes inflict the greatest damage.
The procedure must be performed within 24 hours of the onset of the symptoms, so time is always of the essence when it comes to strokes.
- The Increasing Risk
As the United States tilts older and more ethnically diverse, the number of Americans at high risk will increase. In order to prevent a spike in stroke deaths, we need to pay attention to our diet, exercise and bad habits, and learn how to respond quickly when a stroke occurs.
Providence St. Patrick Hospital wants everyone in Missoula to take care of their health. Home to some of the northern Rocky Mountain region’s most advanced health care since 1873, St. Patrick Hospital is committed to you. For more information, call 406-329-5668 or visit Montana.Providence.org/locations-directory/s/st-patrick-hospital.
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