A team from Doctors Medical Center’s Stroke Center made a presentation before the Ceres City Council last week to stress the importance of residents learning how to detect when somebody is having a stroke. That knowledge coupled with a fast response can mean the difference between life and death.
Every 40 seconds, somebody in the United States has a stroke; and every year about 140,000 die from them. Strokes are more common in older folks but approximately 44.2 percent of stroke victims are 65 years of age or younger. Black folks are more than twice likely to have a stroke than Caucasians.
Medical personnel stress the need to act quickly if someone is having a stroke and ask the public to remember the acronym of FAST to save lives. FAST stands for:
• Face – A stroke causes facial drooping.
• Arm – One arm typically is weaker than the other so ask the possible victim to raise both arms and if they can’t, it’s a sign;
• Speech – A victim often has slurred speech or doesn’t make sense when speaking;
• Time – Quickly call 9-1-1.
Less common signs of stroke include a sudden loss of balance, change in vision or vision loss or sudden severe headache.
An estimated 80 percent of all strokes are preventable by knowing and lowering personal risk factors, including stop smoking, correcting high blood pressure and blood sugar, and correcting high cholesterol.
Dr. James Jaffe, the medical director of Doctors’ stroke program, told the council that the most common stroke occurs when a blood clot can dislodge and enter the brain. Clots may be surgically removed or by use of a clot-busting drug.
The hemorrhagic stroke occurs from a brain aneurism. Smoking, hypertension and genetics often contribute to aneurisms, which is a thinning of a vessel and burst, flowing blood into the brain. Aneurisms can be surgically repaired at Doctors.
Only 27 stroke centers are located in California and Doctors is the only one in the Central Valley with a comprehensive stroke center. The facility also offers rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and facilities and support for family members of patients.
“We’re super lucky to have this in our Valley,” Dr. Jaffe told the council.
In 2020, Doctors Medical Center earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Comprehensive Stroke Certification, demonstrating the hospital’s continuous compliance with performance standards.
There are 194 Comprehensive Stroke Centers around the country and only 27 in California.