Be Aware Of Stroke Symptoms

The George Washington University Hospital Urges Community to be Aware of Stroke Symptoms During May, National Stroke Awareness Month

Washington, DC (May 7) – To help the community understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States, The George Washington University Hospital, GW Medical Faculty Associates and The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences will offer free stroke screenings outside of GW Hospital by the Foggy Bottom Metro Station on Friday, May 30, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Neurology Staff at GW HospitalPhysicians and nurses will provide free stroke-risk evaluations and important information to help lower stroke risk and save lives. In addition to the free evaluations, GW Hospital’s Trauma Services team will also be on hand to provide free educational information to all participants. The event will happen rain or shine and registration is not required.

“Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies from a stroke,” said Kathleen Burger, DO, Director of Stroke Programs at The George Washington University Hospital and Director of Cerebrovascular Neurology and Assistant Professor of Neurology. “The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery.”

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes. When a stroke occurs, rapid medical attention is crucial. When treatment is received promptly, a person has a far greater chance of surviving the stroke and are more likely to have less lasting damage. “Timing is critical when a stroke occurs and urgent treatment is required to prevent serious brain damage, so it’s crucial to recognize the signs of a stroke,” said Burger. “The most common type of stroke, an ischemic stroke which results from a blockage, can be treated with clot-busting drugs called TPA. However, it can only be given up to 4.5 hours after onset of stroke symptoms.”

Immediate medical care should be sought if one or more of the following warning signs are observed: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

To remember the signs of stroke, the National Stroke Association recommends using the acronym FAST:

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech – Ask the person to speak. Does the person have slurred speech or trouble speaking?
  • Time – If you observe any of the above signs, call 9-1-1.

The George Washington University Hospital has been a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center since 2007 by The Joint Commission. The GW Hospital Stroke program has received numerous awards from the American Heart/Stroke Association including the GWTG Gold Plus Achievement and Quality Award since 2010 and Target Stroke Honor Roll award since 2011. GW Hospital is the only hospital in Washington DC to receive the Target Stroke Award which reflects its ability to treat stroke patients quickly and effectively. The award is given to centers able to treat more than half of all stroke patients with thrombolysis, or "clot busting" medications, within 60 minutes of arrival to the Emergency Room.

About Stroke

According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes. An acute ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction, such as a blood clot, blocks blood flow to the brain. The obstruction deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying valuable nerve cells in the affected area within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties.

Treatment may be available if you get to the emergency room immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risk factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce your stroke risk. For more information about stroke, visit GW Hospital’s Neurosciences Institute.

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