May is National Stroke Awareness Month and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center is encouraging area residents to understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability.
“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 CRMC Stroke Coordinator Rachel Hawthorne, R.N. “The earlier a stroke is recognized, and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery.”
Stroke is Minnesota’s sixth leading cause of death. Being designated as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital by the Minnesota Department of Health has prepared CRMC to provide the best possible stroke care for our community, said Hawthorne.
Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties.
Treatment may be available if people get to an 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 stroke risk.
“If you suspect a stroke, remember the words BE FAST,” said Hawthorne. “B is for balance – do you have any sudden difficulty with balance? E is for eyes – do you have any sudden vision changes? F is for face – is your face or mouth 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.”
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; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.