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Seminar Reminds Us of How to Prevent and Recognize a Stroke

Seminar Reminds Us of How to Prevent and Recognize a Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability. Jack Rose, MD, a Washington Hospital specialist in neurointensive care and cerebrovascular disease advises that the key to stroke prevention is understanding the causes of a stroke, its early symptoms, and knowing what to do if you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke.

Dr. Rose, whose specialty includes treatment of diseases that cause a reduction of blood flow to the brain (such as a stroke) and live-threatening diseases of the nervous system, will discuss Stroke Awareness and Prevention at a 1 p.m. Health & Wellness seminar on Tuesday, May 7.

The free online program can be accessed through or

Stoke is brain damage that occurs when circulation to the brain is impaired, usually from a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel, according to Maria Nunes, MSN, FNP, the clinical manager of the Neuroscience Program.

Strokes often can be prevented when risk factors are controlled. This means watching your weight and your diet, exercising, not smoking, drinking alcohol in very moderate amounts, regular medical checkups and identifying risk factors — all of these can help prevent a stroke.

Nunes notes that if you have a disease that is identified as a risk factor for stroke — such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, heart and circulatory problems, or high blood pressure — take active and aggressive steps to manage those diseases so they don’t lead to a stroke sometime in your future.

Some risk factors, such as age, gender, race, family history, a prior stroke or some heart-related medical anomalies, are “uncontrollable” risk factors. These cannot be modified by diet, exercise or other behavioral changes.

Equally important to prevention, Nunes emphasizes, is recognizing the signs of a stroke and getting help in its early stages when medical intervention can reduce the stroke’s damage. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability, she notes. Only 50% to 70% of stroke survivors regain functional independence. That’s why it’s so important to catch the stroke at its onset, as soon as any symptoms are noticed.

The best way to detect a stroke is to test for BE FAST symptoms. These are:

  • Balance — Watch for sudden loss of balance
  • Eyes — Check for vision loss
  • Face — Look for an uneven smile
  • Arms — Check if one arm is weak
  • Speech — Listen for slurred speech
  • Time — Call 911 right away

“If you suspect a stroke is occurring, call 911 IMMEDIATELY,” Nunes advises. Treatment must begin within a short few hours from the stroke’s onset, she explains. Brain damage occurs quickly — a person suffering from a stroke loses 2 million brain cells every minute, according to the American Stroke Association.

Don’t worry that it may be a false alarm. “Far better to be checked out than to be an hour or so too late for the most effective treatment. Time lost is brain lost. Call 911 immediately,” stresses Nunes.

Washington Hospital has been designated as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission (TJC). This means they had to meet strict requirements specified by TJC, including building a program and staff who are specially trained for stroke care. For more information on their stroke program, visit