The risk of having a stroke increases as we age and when one does happen, time is of the essence.
May is “Stroke Awareness Month” and it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the signs of stroke and the importance of getting help as quickly as possible if someone near you is having one.
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“There have been studies to suggest as many as 2 million neurons die per minute in the setting of an acute stroke,” explained Dr. Michael Waters, director of the stroke program at Barrow Neurological Institute. “So it is a time critical disease and faster is always better.”
That’s why Barrow Neurological Institute launched this mobile stroke unit last summer. It’s designed specifically to treat stroke patients and can make a big difference when seconds matter.
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“We’re significantly shortening the amount of time between symptom onset, calling 911, and treating that stroke by taking the emergency room to the patient,” he said. “Sometimes we talk about ‘the golden hour of stroke care’ and that is if someone can present to the hospital within an hour of the stroke onset, the outcomes are invariably better.”
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Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and more than 800,000 people suffer from strokes annually.
So what signs do you need to look out for? Remember the word FAST.
It stands for face, arm, speech and time.
- Face: Showing weakness or asymmetry
- Arm: Showing weakness
- Speech: Slurred or trouble coming up with words
- Time: It is a time-critical event
Dr. Waters says the best ways to decrease your chances of having a stroke are:
- Following a healthy die
- Treat hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol or other chronic conditions
- Exercise at least three times per week
- Don’t smoke or quit if you are a smoker
- Drink only in moderation