CMHS Urges the Community to be Aware of Stroke Symptoms

This is National Stroke Awareness Month and at this time and throughout the year Community Memorial Health System encourages the community to better understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States.

“Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies from a stroke,” said Stephanie Lara-Jenkins, RN, Stroke Center Coordinator at CMH. “The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient presents to an emergency department for treatment, the greater chance of recovery.”

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.

“If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST – F-A-S-T,” said Lara-Jenkins. “F is for face - is your face drooping? A is for arms – can you lift both arms? S is for speech – are you slurring your words and T is for time, call 9-1-1 immediately because with stroke, time is brain.”

The primary stroke symptoms include:
• Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or facial drooping
• Sudden numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Stroke risk factors include:
• Hypertension
• Atrial Fibrillation
• Diabetes Mellitus
• High Cholesterol
• Inactivity/Obesity
• Coronary Heart Disease
• Excessive Tobacco and/or Alcohol Use
• Blood Disorders, and
• Depression

Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes. An acute ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction, such as a blood clot, blocks blood flow to the brain. The obstruction deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying valuable nerve cells in the affected area within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties.

Treatment to reverse the disabilities caused by stroke may be available if get to the emergency room immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risk factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce the risk of stroke.

Find out if you are at risk of a stroke by attending a free Mini Stroke Screening first Fridays each month from 11am-1pm, by appointment only. For stroke survivors, family and caregivers a Stroke Support Group meets second Wednesdays each month 2-3:15 pm. To take a Stroke Risk Assessment visit or call CMHS’s HealthAware office 805-667-2818.

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, along with the Centers for Family Health serving various communities within and located in Ventura County, California.