May is American Stroke Month, and while that designation may not be as well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) or other month-long awareness campaigns, it is certainly one that helps spread the word about a serious medical emergency that often can be prevented. In fact, the American Stroke Association reports that up to 80% of strokes may be preventable.
What is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to parts of the brain are reduced or interrupted, resulting in oxygen deprivation and brain cell death. A stroke is a medical emergency, and immediate intervention can minimize risks for lasting complications. While many strokes are preventable and treatable, unfortunately sometimes they are not.
As statistics from the American Stroke Association make clear, there is ample reason for efforts focusing on reducing stroke rates:
- Over 7 million adults in the U.S. have had a stroke.
- Every 40 seconds in America, someone has a stroke.
- 1 in 4 stroke survivors suffer a second stroke.
- Stroke is a leading cause of death and preventable disability.
- High blood pressure is the leading controllable risk factor for stroke.
Prevention Begins With Awareness
Given the profound risks posed by stroke, prevention is critical. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to manage risks:
- High Blood Pressure – With high blood pressure being the leading risk factor for strokes, knowing your numbers and controlling your blood pressure is one of the most important preventative measures you can take. High blood pressure is defined as 130/80, which means as many as half of all U.S. adults may have high blood pressure. To help prevent a stroke, you can work with your doctor to manage and monitor your blood pressure and take aspirin or other medications if necessary.
- Healthy Lifestyle – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and actively taking care of yourself is important to controlling high blood pressure, reducing stroke risks, and improving your overall health. This means seeking regular exams with a doctor and managing any existing conditions or other stroke risk factors (such as diabetes) with the help of a medical professional. Better health also requires daily self-care, which means you should watch your cholesterol, keep your blood sugar down, eat well, lose weight (if you need to), and avoid smoking and excessive drinking.
- Second Strokes – Roughly a quarter of every stroke survivor has a second stroke. Fortunately, second strokes can largely be prevented by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Stroke survivors should also speak to doctors about risk reduction and aspirin or medication regimens, as those who stop daily aspirin can increase risks for a second stroke by nearly 40%
Spot a Stroke FAST
A stroke can happen suddenly, at any time and without warning. Because immediate action is critical to treating stroke – and can be the difference between life and death – you need to be able to spot a stroke FAST. You can use this four-letter acronym to spot a stroke quickly and prevent brain damage:
- F – Face Drooping
- A – Arm Weakness
- S – Speech Difficulty
- T – Time to Call 911
When you notice these or other warning signs (including vision difficulties, problems with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance) you should immediately call 911 and seek emergency medical attention.
Stroke treatment is now more advanced than it has ever been. Generally, treatment approaches can vary depending on whether it was an ischemic stroke (caused by an artery blockage or “clot”), a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a rupture and Transient Ischemic Attack), or a mini-stroke caused by temporary blood-flow blockage.
The most effective treatment is emergency care within several hours of a stroke and often involves administration of clot-busting medications such as alteplase, or tPa as it is also known. According to the American Stroke Association, patients administered alteplase within 90 minutes of stroke symptom onset are nearly 3x more likely to recover with minimal to no disability.
Protect Your Health: Stay Stroke-Free
Our legal team at Freidin Brown, P.A. encourages you to learn more about strokes and prevention by visiting the American Stroke Association website, and to spread the word that strokes can be preventable and treatable.
As a nationally recognized trial firm that maintains an active practice representing clients in medical malpractice cases, we know protecting your health can benefit more than just your risk for stroke. Unfortunately, we also know that the unexpected can happen, and when it does, patients have the right to be treated by medical professionals in a manner consistent with current acceptable standards and guidelines. This includes patients’ treatment for stroke.
Because of the complex medical issues involved in medical malpractice cases involving strokes, it is important that you speak with a lawyer who has experience dealing with stroke cases. At Freidin Brown, P.A. our stroke-related cases have involved:
- Failures to diagnose or misdiagnosis of stroke that led to missed treatment opportunities, patient harm, disability, death, or a second stroke
- Failure to recognize and treat a stroke in accordance to acceptable medical standards
- Failure to administer tPa when called for by guidelines
- Negligence during labor, delivery, and birth that leads to maternal or fetal stroke
If you wish to discuss a potential medical malpractice case involving a stroke, our firm is available to speak with you personally during a free consultation. Contact us today.