(Cary, N.C.) Knowing the signs of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death. Stroke is the number four killer of Americans and is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Experts say that if people knew the signs and symptoms of stroke and got to the hospital within the first three hours of symptom onset, many more lives could be saved. The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME) is pleased to announce its support of National Stroke Awareness Month in May to increase awareness about the warning signs and symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 911.
“Chronic diseases, such as stroke, are the biggest threats to the health and wellness of people in North and South Carolina and account for the greatest portion of health care costs in these two states,” said Melinda Postal, director of communications at CCME. “Our focus at CCME is to raise awareness of both preventive measures, and the warning signs and symptoms of stroke.”
In North Carolina, CCME is working closely with the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force and the North Carolina Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program (HDSP) in the Start With Your Heart campaign to improve public awareness of risk factors, signs and symptoms, and the need for early treatment for stroke. The campaign also encourages making lifestyle changes for better health and using emergency response services, such as calling 911, if you are having or observing a stroke to ensure timely access to appropriate care. Together with HDSP, CCME has also joined Million Hearts, which is a national campaign aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.
“The Task Force focuses on systems-level changes to create communities, work places, schools, and health care systems that are supportive of cardiovascular health promotion and cardiovascular disease prevention,” Postal said. “We are proud to partner with them in making North Carolina a healthier place to live.”
The National Stroke Awareness Month Program is run by the National Stroke Association, which is dedicated to promoting public awareness about stroke risk factors, stroke symptoms, and stroke preventive measures. The program places emphasis on making the public aware of “acting FAST.” Experts say seconds count, and to get treatment within three hours.
For the most common types of strokes, called ischemic strokes, clot-busting drugs can reopen blocked arteries and limit the damage. To be eligible for this type of treatment, however, patients must arrive at the hospital within three hours of first noticing symptoms, so it is important that you call 911 immediately if you experience any of these signs or symptoms of a stroke:
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
For more information, visit the Start With Your Heart website at www.startwithyourheart.com, the National Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org, the American Stroke Association website at www.strokeassociation.org, and CCME’s website at www.thecarolinascenter.org.