May is National Stroke Awareness Month. In order to help the community understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States, Mid Coast Hospital is launching a community awareness initiative that highlights risk factors and signs of stroke.
"Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke. Outcomes are greatly improved if symptoms are recognized quickly and immediate medical attention is given,” said John Taylor, DO, a Neurologist with Mid Coast Medical Group – Neurology and Medical Director of the stroke program. "Given the high incidence of stroke in our region it is more important than ever to educate our community about the signs and symptoms of stroke. We continue to see as many as 80% of our patients not getting to the hospital within the recommended amount of time.”
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes. Treatment options are available and recovery more likely if the patient gets medical attention immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms.
"If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST – F-A-S-T,” said Dr. Taylor "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.”
Mid Coast Hospital is one of only five certified Primary Stroke Centers in Maine recognized by the Joint Commission and The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The certification demonstrates the hospital’s ability to provide the most advanced level of care to stroke patients.
Steve Trockman, MPH, Chair of the Sagadahoc County Board of Health, summarizes, "Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that Sagadahoc County has one of the highest stroke death rates in the state. Spreading awareness about what signs to look for, what services are available, and how to decrease the risk of stroke, will help to improve these outcomes.”
According to the American Stroke Association, preventable risk factors for stroke include being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, smoking, and having other health conditions like diabetes, carotid artery disease, or high cholesterol. People can reduce their risks by quitting smoking, improving their diet, increasing physical activity, and regularly visiting a primary care doctor.