Stroke can be prevented; start reducing risk today

When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. Getting fast treatment is essential in preventing permanent damage or death.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death among Americans, and about 800,000 people in the U.S. have one each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain either ruptures or is blocked by a clot and part of the brain dies. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage.

The major symptoms can be identified with the acronym F.A.ST.

F – Face – Sudden weakness or droopiness of the face, or problems with vision

AArms – Sudden weakness or numbness of one or both arms

S – Speech – Difficulty speaking, slurred speech or garbled speech

T – Time – Time is of the essence. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

Other symptoms include a sudden severe headache with no known cause, one-sided weakness, sudden loss of coordination and trouble speaking or swallowing.

There are two main types of stroke: ischemic (caused by blockage in a blood vessel in the brain) and hemorrhagic (caused by bleeding in the brain or surrounding area).

The most common type, the ischemic, can be treated with brain-saving and potentially lifesaving “clot buster” medicines. These medications can only be given during the first few hours. If people wait too long, they may suffer unnecessary permanent disability.

The best treatment is prevention. Recognizing the risk factors and making lifestyle changes, such as exercising, eating healthy and not smoking, can greatly reduce a person’s risk.

Ischemic Stroke risk factors

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Heart disease
  3. Smoking
  4. Diabetes
  5. High blood cholesterol levels
  6. Illegal drug use
  7. Recent childbirth
  8. Previous history of transient ischemic attack (warning stroke that can happen before a major  stroke)
  9. Sedentary lifestyle
  10. Obesity
  11. Current or past history of blood clots
  12. Age 40 years and older

Hemorrhagic Stroke risk factors:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Smoking
  3. Illegal drug use (especially cocaine and “crystal meth”)
  4. Use of Warfarin or other blood-thinning medications

Stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care. If you believe you or someone around you is having a stroke, do not attempt to drive to the hospital, call 9-1-1 immediately. Receiving prompt medical attention can mean the difference between life and death and greatly increase the chances for a full recovery.

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital is a Certified Level 3 Stroke Center. We have a Rapid Transfer agreement with Overlake Hospital that allows us to have immediate consultation from their neurologist and includes a plan to rapidly transfer patients requiring a higher level of care or intervention.

Our premier regional post-acute rehabilitation program helps patients recover from stroke through skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. For more information, go to: Swing Bed Program.