SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Health experts say every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. May is National Stroke Awareness Month. The disease can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Health Care officials said there are ways to reduce the risk of stroke.
Acadian Ambulance supervisor Frank Duke and his team are faced with patients all the time experiencing strokes. They said some don't even realize they are having one.
"Typically what we see is family members get confused or they will see the face begins to drop, slurred speech, they will have certain weaknesses in their arms or legs accompanied by a headache," said Duke.
During a stroke, brain cells can suddenly die because of a lack of oxygen and glucose. Duke said when you spot the warning signs it's best to dial 911 immediately.
"The quicker that patient can rebound. If we wait minutes or hours, and in some cases three or four hours, before we realize this guy maybe having a stroke, at that time it may be too late to receive the lifesaving medication," Duke said.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Randy Roth, with Singing River Health System, agrees response is everything.
"Just like with heartache, you want to get to the emergency room very quickly. Time is brain. If you can get in within four and a half hours, we can asses you for the possibility of using what we call TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) or the clot buster medication, which gives our patients the best chance for a full recovery," said Roth.
Statistics show that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disabilities.
"A stroke can happen at any age. It can happen at 40 with no symptoms and it can happen at 75 with numerous risk factors," Roth said.
Health official said that's why it is important to reduce the risk of stroke and work on living a healthier lifestyle.
"Weight loss, exercise. Modify your risk factors, whether it is high blood pressure, diabetes, and get great access to great care if you have signs of a stroke," Roth said.
Recently, Singing River Health System received national recognition for its Stroke Care as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Health officials also received the Stroke Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award for implementing improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association-American Stroke Association.