Stay a step ahead
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By knowing the signs — and what to do if you recognize a stroke — you could potentially save your life or the life of someone you know.
What is a stroke?
A stroke, or "brain attack," occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain, or when a blood vessel breaks. The brain needs a constant flow of blood to keep it working properly. When a stroke occurs, the blood supply is disrupted, and brain cells are starved of oxygen, causing cell death in the immediate area. A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, and treatment is more effective if it is given quickly.
Risk factors for stroke include:
- High cholesterol
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Excessive drinking
- Illegal drug use
Signs and symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg — especially on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden unexplained trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.
- Facial weakness
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arm and leg weakness
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is there leg weakness?
- Speech problems
Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he or she repeat a sentence correctly?
- Time is critical
If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 911 and make note of the time of symptom onset if known.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano is dedicated to providing services for a broad continuum of care for stroke victims. Early treatment of stroke and use of clot-busting medications such as t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator) within the first hours of the onset of symptoms can greatly affect the outcome, according to the National Stroke Association. Physicians on the medical staff can administer t-PA for care of stroke.
Team approach: An interdisciplinary team of health care professionals organizes and delivers care to stroke patients. The team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, internal medicine specialists, rehabilitation specialists, and emergency medicine physicians on the medical staff, as well as nurses, pharmacists, radiology and laboratory representatives, technicians and therapy services.
Rehabilitation: The National Stroke Association states that nearly all stroke survivors can benefit from an appropriately structured and comprehensive rehabilitation program. At Texas Health Plano, the goal of stroke rehabilitation is to maximize overall independence in self-care skills and functional mobility. Patients begin rehabilitation early in their treatment as directed by their physicians. The Stroke Program also includes access to education and prevention programs as well as stroke survivors support groups.
For more information, call the Texas Health Plano stroke coordinator at 972-981-3185.