Stroke Awareness Month

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

When you have a stroke, every second counts. Brain cells die as blood flow to the brain gets interrupted.

Years ago, having a stroke meant living with lifelong, serious disabilities. Today, advanced surgical procedures and treatments have changed that, dramatically reducing the effects of stroke for many.

At Bon Secours, neurosurgeons, physicians, nurses and staff work as a team to identify and treat stroke patients as quickly as possible. Within minutes, highly trained specialists put into action
treatment decisions to help prevent the damage that can occur after a stroke. Neurosurgeons remove blood clots, repair blood vessels and stop the bleeding.

This commitment to comprehensive stroke and neurological care is why all Bon Secours Virginia hospitals are certified stroke centers with six primary stroke centers, a stroke-ready free standing emergency department and two comprehensive stroke centers.

Using pioneering technology, Bon Secours stroke services include:

  • Early intervention – Patients who come to any of our emergency departments with stroke symptoms are evaluated immediately for possible treatment with clot-busting medicines.
  • Expert care – Our emergency medicine physicians, who have been trained to assess acute stroke patients, work in collaboration with neurologists.
  • Interventional team – When a blood clot in the brain causes an acute ischemic stroke, our interventional team can dissolve the clot or remove it using the latest technology and methods.
  • Neuroendovascular surgery – Stroke patients have access to minimally invasive interventional treatments to protect the brain.
  • Teleneurology – At any time, teleneurology allows us to connect an on-call stroke specialist to our emergency room. These neurologists can conduct an assessment as If they were standing at the patient’s bedside.

Despite advances in stroke treatment, it’s still important to seek emergency help immediately if you think you or someone else is having a stroke.

Patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those who received delayed care, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are the stroke signs to look for in yourself or those around you:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911. You need to get to a hospital right away. Even if the symptoms go away quickly, it may still be a stroke.

It also helps to know if you’re at risk for a stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans but the risk of having a stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks compared to whites.

Another risk factor is high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you are four to six times more likely to have a stroke. Make sure to check your blood pressure regularly and seek treatment if it’s too high. Many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms.

Heart disease and having atrial fibrillation can also double your risk of stroke.

Other stroke risk factors include: diabetes, high cholesterol, sickle cell disease and having a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack.

While you can’t control some risk factors, such as getting older, you can help prevent stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. If you’re overweight, lose the excess pounds to reach a healthy weight. Make sure you exercise regularly – 30 minutes daily can greatly improve your health. If you smoke, quit. And if you drink, limit your alcohol consumption.

Talk to your health provider so you can take action to control your risk.