May is Stroke Awareness Month

05/13/2019
Stroke is the main cause of chronic disability and can reduce mobility.

By CHA Neurology Physician Shruti Sonni, MD

Did you know that each year more than 795,000 people suffer from a stroke across the United States? 610,000 of these incidents are the first time someone has a stroke. Stroke is the dominant cause of chronic disability and can reduce mobility in more than 50% of survivors ages 65 and over. There are two main types of stroke, one is from a clot blocking a major blood vessel in the brain (also known as ‘ischemic stroke’) and the other is sudden bleeding inside the brain tissue (known as ‘hemorrhagic stroke’).

Hopefully, you have not experienced a stroke in your immediate family or close circle of friends but if you have, you know that it can change everything in an instant. Stroke survivors often have mood changes and their behavior can seem confusing to friends and family members. When an individual suffers from a stroke, long-standing family roles can reverse. Young adults may have to care for aging parents or siblings may have to take on nurturing one another.

Quick reaction can often reduce brain damage caused by a stroke. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Intense headache with seemingly no cause.
  • Difficulty walking, weakness in the arms or leg, loss of coordination or dizziness.
  • Trouble seeing out of both or one eye, or double vision.
  • Speech issues and problems understanding or producing language.

When a person is having a stroke, every second is crucial. The treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 4.5 hours, though recent studies show that there are interventions that can be performed up to 24 hours in certain cases to reverse the deficits from a stroke. This does not mean that we should wait to see if the person starts getting better. Time wasted is brain tissue lost!

If you believe a person is having a stroke, use the F.A.S.T. test:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask them to lift their arms. Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech: Ask the person to speak a simple sentence a few times. Is their speech slurred?
  • Time: If you witness any of these signs, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

Please, as we mentioned above, call 9-1-1 if you believe that you or someone you know is having a stroke. If you are exploring options in care, let us introduce you to the compassionate team at Cambridge Health Alliance by calling 617-665-1305 or visit www.challiance.org/cha/find-a-doctor.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.