Learn the ABC’s of Stroke Prevention
Stroke. For most of us, it’s a terrifying word because we imagine a stroke leaving us unable to talk, move, or to be ourselves. But do you truly understand what it means?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to your brain is either blocked or bursts. If this happens, a part of the brain cannot get the oxygen it needs and starts to die. This occurs every 40 seconds in the U.S.with 780,000 Americans suffering a new or recurrent stroke each year, and it’s the third cause of death following heart disease and cancer. This is a pretty scary reality, but there is hope.
Time is of the essence in the treatment of stroke – so, in 2007, Fletcher Allen initiated a joint effort with local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to develop a protocol for the early recognition and pre-hospital treatment of stroke. Once an EMS provider identifies a possible stroke, Fletcher Allen is notified and a Stroke Alert is called. A team of specialists meets the patient in emergency department. This has significantly decreased the time from onset of symptoms to treatment – increasing survival and functioning for patients.
Recently, Fletcher Allen teamed up with Vermont EMS District 3 to help alleviate anxiety for patients experiencing stroke and their families. The patient-family stroke education group has created a storyboard with pictures that explains the Stroke Alert process and is used by staff in both the pre-hospital and hospital setting.
What can you do? Learn the signs and symptoms of stroke, act FAST and call 911 immediately if you suspect someone is having a stroke. Use FAST to remember the warning signs:
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Remember – time is brain tissue! Learning the warning signs and acting FAST could save your life or the life of a loved one!