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. Moreover, 1 in 4 people who recover from their first stroke will have another within just 5 years.
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. Our focus is on education - for patients and the public - to increase stroke awareness, promote preventive measures, and provide education about stroke symptoms.
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 - The risk of stroke is twice as high every decade after you reach 55.
- Family history - If a parent, grandparent, or sibling has suffered a stroke, your risk for having a stroke is higher.
- Gender - Men and women have the same risk of stroke, but women are more likely to die from stroke.
- Prior stroke - If you've had a stroke, the likelihood that you'll have another is greatly increased.
Risk factors you can control
- High blood pressure - This is arguably the greatest single risk factor for stroke.
- Smoking - If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do, stop.
- Diabetes - This disease in and of itself is a risk factor, and that risk increase when diabetes is combined with other typical accompanying conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and extra weight.
- Heart disease - Atrial fibrillation is a serious risk factor. People who have had a heart attack are also at greater risk for a stroke.
- Substance abuse - Drinking beyond the recommended moderate levels of one drink a day for women and two for men can significantly increase your risk of stroke. Intravenous drug use/abuse and cocaine can also increase your risk.
Know what to look for:
SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg - especially on one side of the body.
SUDDEN confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding.
SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.
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.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. Do this simple test.
- Ask the person to smile.
- Does one side of the face droop?
- Ask the person to raise both arms.
- Does one arm drift downward?
- Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 9-1-1 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying. The sooner treatment can begin, the better chance of recovery.