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May is Stroke Awareness Month

By Brooke Marshall

Community Relations and Foundation Manager at Crisp Regional Hospital

CORDELE –In May alone, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke with many unaware that they were even at risk. Less than a third will arrive in the emergency room within three hours, the optimal time period for better outcomes.

May marks National Stroke Awareness Month, and this year the National Stroke Association is turning the spotlight on the 10 modifiable risk factors that account for 90% of strokes globally. Hypertension remains the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes. With eight in 10 people experiencing their first stroke having hypertension, getting your blood pressure check is an important first step in controlling your stroke risk.

Research has shown that unhealthy behaviors such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking have an adverse effect on health and increase your stroke risk. For example, smokers have an increased risk of stroke, up to two to four times, compared to a nonsmokes or those that have to quit for longer than 10 years.

During National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association is urging the public to look at their stroke risk factors, and pledge to make at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.

Beyond reducing your risk for stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are equally important. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke and around 800,000 people will have a stroke in the United States this year alone.

“Learning how to recognize a stroke is just as important as reducing your risk factors,” says Brooke Marshall, Community Relations Director at Crisp Regional. “We know that recognition of stroke symptoms leads to receiving medical attention faster, which results in better outcomes. Knowing the signs of stroke, how to prevent it, and how to help others around you, just might save a life.”

Sadly, however, fewer than half of 9-1-1 calls for stroke are made within the one hour symptom onset and fewer than half of callers correctly identify stroke as the reason for their call. The acronym FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of a stroke:

F-Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A-Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does the arm drift downward>

S-Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred?

T-Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

A common misconception is that strokes occur only in older adults. Although, your stroke risk increase with age, a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. About 15% of ischemic strokes occur in young adults and adolescents.

In May of 2017, Crisp Regional Hospital was designated as a Remote Treatment Stroke Center by the Office of EMS and Trauma in the Georgia Department of Public Health. Crisp Regional is only the 8th hospital in Georgia to receive this designation. The accreditation recognizes Crisp Regional Hospital’s quality care for stroke patients in providing state-of-the-art diagnostics and emergency treatment, and comes after more than a year of diligent work developing a stroke system of care.

“This designation means that we are providing our patients with the highest level of stroke care which improves outcomes for our patients,” commented Steven L. Gautney, President and CEO of Crisp Regional Health Services. “The certification process is arduous and very comprehensive. I commend our stroke team who devoted many hours to developing protocols, care pathways, stroke order sets, and performance improvement plans necessary to achieve this accreditation.”

The need for public awareness surrounding stroke prevention and awareness has never been greater. Despite being a leading cause of adult long-term disability, and the fifth leading cause of death, less than one on five Americans can correctly classify all five stroke symptoms. The time to take action is now. This May, during National Stroke Awareness month, get to know your stroke risk factors and learn to better identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The life you save just might be your own.