By M. Farrukh Nizam, MD
Each year, 700,000 people suffer a stroke
and nearly a quarter of them die, making stroke the third leading killer in the
United States. Don’t be a statistic: develop healthy lifestyle habits to prevent
stroke, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of a stroke and learn
what to do if you or a loved one think you are having one.
Stroke prevention begins with regular
exercise, a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Get your
cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly and take steps to keep them
under control. Undetected sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can also
increase your risk of having a stroke. If you snore, fall asleep during the day
or suspect that you may suffer from a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about
getting a sleep study to diagnose your problem and obtain treatment.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a
part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. The signs and symptoms of a stroke
may not be as obvious as those of other illnesses. To help you assess whether
you or a loved one are having a stroke, remember the following STROKE
Smile. Is there
drooping on either side of the face?
Talk. Is speech
Raise arms. Are arm
Open eyes. Are
Knowledge. Is the
individual confused or disoriented?
Equilibrium. Is the
person dizzy or off-balance?
If the answer to one of these questions is
yes, call 9-1-1 immediately. Although these symptoms may not appear to be
serious, do not delay in seeking medical treatment. Time lost is brain lost. It
is extremely critical for stroke patients to get medical treatment within the
first few hours after having a stroke. If clot-busting drugs are administered in
a timely manner, they may help prevent or minimize brain damage and give
patients the best chance for a full recovery.
Because time is of the essence, the stroke
team at Somerset Medical Center begins mobilizing as soon as a rescue squad
calls the Emergency Department to let them know that a potential stroke patient
in on the way. Upon the patient’s arrival in the Emergency Department, Emergency
Department physicians, neurologists and nurses work together to quickly assess
the patient’s condition. Blood tests, CT scans and other diagnostic tests are
expedited to ensure a prompt diagnosis. If a stroke is diagnosed, the team
will determine whether the patient is eligible to receive clot-busting drugs.
Surgery may also be an option.
Somerset Medical Center was recently
designated a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, the nation’s leading
health care accreditation organization. It is one of only 19 facilities in New
Jersey to achieve this designation, certifying its ability to quickly diagnose
strokes, tailor a treatment and intervention program to an individual patient’s
needs and establish quality improvement measures to continually review and
improve treatment response times.
Somerset Medical Center also offers a full
range of rehabilitation services for stroke patients, including physical,
occupational and speech therapy.
Dr. Nizam, a board-certified
neurologist, is medical director of Somerset Medical Center’s Stroke