May is stroke awareness month and Centegra Health System is committed to decreasing the death and disability rates in the McHenry County area.According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and more than 143,500 people die each year from stroke in the United States. Every three to four minutes, someone dies of stroke. In addition, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States.A stroke is also called a brain attack and occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain (ischemic) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic), according to Sarah A. Vela, chest pain and stroke coordinator at Centegra Health System. When a stroke occurs, the blood supply to the brain is blocked or significantly decreased. The cells in the brain begin dying immediately.”This is a medical emergency and every minute counts, Vela said. “Time is brain. The faster the bleeding is stopped or that clot is broken up, the less injury the brain will have.” Vela said signs and symptoms of a stroke include the following:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body-facial droop or uneven smile
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking (slurred speech) or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
“If a person experiences any of these signs or symptoms, he or she should call 9-1-1 immediately,” Vela said. “Do not try to drive or get a ride. Emergency medical personnel can begin life saving treatment on arrival. Remember that time is brain.” Vela said it’s also important to make note of the time the symptoms began since treatment is time sensitive. Initial testing in a Centegra hospital emergency department will include an immediate CT scan of the brain, also known as a specialized x-ray of the brain; a neurological examination; intravenous access and blood tests.Risk factors related to stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, heavy alcohol use, physical inactivity and obesity, atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and a family history of stroke.Check the risk of stroke by getting a vascular screening for $129 on the Centegra Wellness on the Move mobile health unit. Call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347) for dates, locations and to register.Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock have both received Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), an international organization dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death. Both hospitals are the first in the northern Illinois region to receive one of the most advanced levels of chest pain accreditations. This advanced accreditation makes Centegra’s hospitals two of only 13 in Illinois to earn this level of distinction.