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Know the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke: It Can Save Your Loved One's Life

When someone you know — a friend or family member — appears to be suffering a stroke, the most important thing to do is call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke victims who receive treatment within a narrow window of a few hours after a suspected stroke have the best chance for a good recovery, according to Dr. Ash Jain, cardiologist and medical director of the Washington Hospital Stroke Program.

Dr. Jain and Doug Van Houten R.N., Washington Hospital Stroke Program coordinator, will discuss “Acute Management of Stroke” and “Chronic Care and Stroke Rehabilitation” at a free, two-hour evening program on Tuesday, December 1 beginning at 6 p.m. The stroke education program, which is open to the public, will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A & B, at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, Fremont.

To register for the free seminar, visit, or call 1-800-963-7070. The seminar is part of an ongoing series of programs, held on the first Tuesday of each month, which are offered to educate the public about strokes. The public is encouraged to attend any or all of the programs.

In addition to being the fifth leading cause of death, strokes also are the primary cause of serious, long-term disability in stroke survivors. This is why the Stroke Program at Washington Hospital devotes significant resources and energy to educating the public and working to assist individuals in the community prevent strokes and to recognize strokes when they occur, Dr. Jain said.

For stroke victims, the cutting-edge care at a Primary Stroke Center, like the one at Washington Hospital, is critical to mitigating damage from a stroke. “Our primary goal is to treat a stroke as quickly as possible once a patient reaches our Emergency Room,” Dr. Jain explained. “Time is everything when it comes to effective management of a stroke,” he added.

“Even small delays can have heavy costs and research has shown that outcomes are better when individual can properly identify signs of a stroke and then seek help immediately,” Dr. Jain said. “At Washington Hospital, we strive to improve upon our own timing in assessing patients and starting treatment — as time is brain.”

The more the community is educated about stroke, the more likely a friend or family member will recognize a potential stroke and take action, Dr. Jain said. Quite often it is a family member — not the stroke victim — who recognizes a stroke and calls 9-1-1. Most importantly, many of the acute management techniques for stroke are beneficial within a certain time frame, which means a patient must reach the ER as quickly as possible.

Dr. Jain added: “Acute management of stroke is evolving and improving on a daily basis. Washington Hospital is keeping up with all the advances taking place and we are improving upon our own results. Management with some patients now involves going into the arteries and opening them with stent and re-establishing blood flow. The sooner it is done, the better the outcome.”

After experiencing a stroke, participation in an ongoing rehabilitation program under the direction of specialized therapists offers stroke victims some measure of improvement.

“Amazingly, if one survives a stroke, the stroke victim almost always gets at least somewhat better with appropriate rehabilitation therapy,” Van Houten said. While nearly every stroke patient can measure some improvement, stroke recovery is quite complicated because of the stroke’s impact on the whole patient, Van Houten noted. Rehabilitation activities typically focus on three main areas of disability:

  • Physical: Recovering motor function such as learning to walk again, becoming independent with activities of daily living, being able to swallow safely. It also means recovering from cognitive impairment.
  • Psychological: This means focusing on “recovery of the self.” Before a stroke, a person thinks of one’s self as independent, competent — just like everyone else. Suddenly there may be a loss of independence, a loss of the “normal” self, of other similar identities.
  • Social: A stroke survivor may be confronted with the loss of his/her identity as a worker, provider, head-of-family, advisor, other functions or activities. Suddenly the stroke survivor may now find him/herself in the role of a care-receiver, of being dependent on others and no longer able to work.

“Recovery from a stroke can be a challenge from many different vantage points,” Van Houten said. “These issues are part of the reason a stroke can be so disabling.” Rehabilitation is the key to stroke recovery, Van Houten emphasized. Stroke patients and their caregivers must take advantage of rehabilitation experts who include physical, occupational and speech therapists. And, equally important is the will of the stroke survivor to get better, he added.

Stroke Education Seminars in 2016

  • January 5: Stroke Prevention and Other Disease Processes, Healthy Lifestyle — Be Smart and Avoid Stroke
  • February 2: Living with Stroke, Future in Diagnosis and Management
  • March 1: Introduction — Stroke, Risk Factors for Stroke
  • April 5: Acute Management of Stroke, Chronic Care and Stroke Rehabilitation
  • May 3: Stroke Prevention and Other Disease Processes, Healthy Lifestyle — Be Smart and Avoid Stroke
  • June 7: Living with Stroke, Future in Diagnosis and Management

Washington Hospital’s free stroke education seminars take place on the first Tuesday of each month beginning at 6 p.m. To register, visit or call 800.963.7070.