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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2016 Update:

In 2013, on average – every four minutes, someone in the United States died of a stroke, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

National Stroke Awareness Month is an annual opportunity to get the word out about stroke. Each May, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes National Stroke Awareness Month by educating people about the signs, symptoms and ways that we can prevent stroke.

WakeMed: Award Winning Care for Stroke

WakeMed Raleigh Campus and WakeMed Cary Hospital are Joint Commission-Certified Primary Stroke Centers – a recognition we’ve held since 2006 and 2008, respectively. We have received multiple awards for quality care from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA)’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke program.

Most recently, WakeMed received the highest level award given: the Gold Plus Quality Award, which is an advanced level of recognition acknowledging hospitals for consistent compliance with Quality Measures. Additionally, for the past two years, WakeMed Raleigh Campus received the AHA/ASA’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll-Elite Award, which recognizes hospitals that treat at least 75% of stroke patients who receive IV t-PA within 60 minutes of arrival in the emergency department.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency. It is a Brain Attack. Stroke occurs when an artery, leading to the brain (or within the brain) is blocked or damaged. A clot can block an artery, or an artery can burst. This reduces or completely blocks blood flow to an area of the brain.

Without glucose and oxygen provided by the blood, brain cells may be permanently damaged. When part of the brain is injured, the part of the body it controls is affected.

how to remember the signs of a stroke

Symptoms of a Stroke

Learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Some of the symptoms include sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or loss of coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

How can we prevent stroke?

The National Stroke Association reports that five healthy lifestyle habits can prevent up to 80 percent of stroke:

  1. older african american couple laughing on stepsEating a healthy diet
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight
  3. Regular exercise
  4. Avoiding tobacco
  5. Consuming alcohol in moderation or not at all

Know your Numbers

  • Blood Pressure – Know your blood pressure. Lower it, and have it checked often.
  • Cholesterol – Know it, and lower it!
  • Diabetes – If you have diabetes, keep it under control.
  • Your Doctor – See your doctor regularly.

You Can Be a Stroke Hero!

Two million brain cells are lost within the first minute after a stroke starts.

The acute stroke treatments that can reduce or prevent the disability caused by stroke have to be given QUICKLY in order to be safe and effective. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the signs of stroke, and respond appropriately by calling 9-1-1.

Related Information

About Kimberly Elks, RN

Kimberly Elks is the Stroke Program Coordinator at WakeMed, a position she has held for the last fifteen years. A Raleigh, NC native, Kimberly has been a nurse for almost 40 years, and she’s worked for WakeMed for 38 years. She is passionate about educating patients, their families, staff, and the community about stroke. When she’s not at the hospital, Kimberly can be found gardening, reading, spending time with family, or taking trips to the beach.