Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of serious long-term disability in the nation, with approximately 795,000 strokes in the U.S. every year.
Timely and appropriate treatment are critical to optimal outcomes for stroke patients. In 2009, Community Hospital became the first Joint Commission-certified PRIMARY STROKE CENTER in Monterey County, providing the best in stroke care for our community. Proper care - delivered within a 4.5-hour time frame - can mean the difference between full recovery and suffering from stroke disabilities that can reduce quality of life.
If you think someone is having a stroke, look for these signs and act F.A.S.T.:
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Remember: Note the time you first experienced or noticed symptoms. This information is important to the healthcare provider and can affect treatment decisions.
A number of things can increase your risk for having a stroke. Some of them you can control. Others you can't. Still, an awareness for all of them can help you make the best possible lifestyle choices.
Risk factors you can't control
- Age - Strokes can affect all ages, but risk increases with age, especially after 55.
- Family history - Your stroke risk is greater if a parent or sibling has had a stroke.
- Gender - Women have a greater risk of stroke, but men aren’t immune; it’s the fourth leading cause of death in men.
- Prior stroke - If you've had a stroke, the likelihood that you'll have another is greatly increased.
- Race - Risk of stroke varies among ethnic groups; African-Americans are more likely to have a stroke than others.
Risk factors you can control
- High blood pressure - This is considered the biggest risk for stroke. Exercise, weight control, a healthy diet and medication can help lower blood pressure.
- Undesirable cholesterol levels - High levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) can cause a buildup of plaque. High levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) can protect against stroke by helping remove excess cholesterol from the blood. The same lifestyle changes that can lower blood pressure can improve cholesterol.
- Smoking - Smokers have about a 50-percent greater risk of having a stroke than nonsmokers. Quitting at any age can reduce your chances of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Diabetes - If you have diabetes, you are at three-times greater risk for stroke. Diabetes can usually be managed with diet, exercise, and, if needed, medication.
- Heart disease - Heart disease increases your risk of a blood clot breaking loose and blocking blood vessels in or to the brain.
- Alcohol use - Heavy alcohol use can increase blood pressure. If you drink, drink moderately: up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men 65 and older, and up to two drinks for men under 65.
- Other risks - Other factors that increase stroke risk include sleep apnea, physical inactivity, obesity, migraines, and atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heart beat).