PERTH AMBOY — A stroke occurs every 40 seconds and affects an estimated 800,000 people each year. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), many people, and especially women, are unaware of the warning signs and symptoms of an acute stroke.
“Stroke does not discriminate,” says neurologist Rafiya Khakoo, MD, medical director of the Stroke Center at Raritan Bay Medical Center (RBMC). “Stroke comes on suddenly and can affect people of any age. It can be devastating but it does not mean the end.”
As part of the medical center’s community awareness efforts in conjunction with the AHA’s National Go Red for Women campaign, RBMC is providing free blood pressure screenings and heart healthy information on Go Red day Friday, February 1, at eight locations.
“Too many women die or become disabled each year from stroke and heart disease, the number four and number one killers of women,” says registered nurse Mirian Medina, coordinator of RBMC’s stroke center, “As proud supporters of the Go Red movement, we want to spread the word to women about living heart healthy and getting regular heart screenings.”
The Feb. 1 events will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at local YMCAs; Raritan Bay Area (in Perth Amboy), Woodbridge, South Amboy, East Brunswick and Metuchen, the Sayreville and Old Bridge Borough Halls and Vito Mazza Salon and Day Spa in Woodbridge. Also, as part of Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac’s Wellness Campaign, clinicians will do the same at the Woodbridge Center Mall center court that evening 6 to 8 p.m.
“Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted,” says Medina. “More women than men suffer from stroke. That’s why it’s so crucial for everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke and quickly activate 911. Also keep in mind, if stroke is suspected, note when symptoms begin because the FDA approved medication Tissue Plasminogen Activator (referred to as TpA, a clot busting medication) can only be given three hours from onset of symptoms,” says Medina. “The acronym F.A.S.T. can be a very helpful reminder of how to identify stroke.”
F.A.S.T. stands for:
F is for facial drooping. Your face feels numb or frozen, especially on one side.
A is for arm weakness, especially on one side.
S is for speech problems. You can’t speak or understand properly.
T is for time to call 911; the faster you get treatment, the less damage to your brain. Phone 911 or have someone call an ambulance for you immediately, even if symptoms disappear.
“Be aware that women are more likely than men to report unusual stroke symptoms, such as sudden nausea or pain in the face, arm, or leg,” says Medina.
RBMC, with locations in Old Bridge and Perth Amboy, has a strong commitment to promoting stroke awareness and providing optimal care for stroke patients, evidenced by the medical center’s designation as a New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Primary Stroke Center1 and as a recipient of the AHA’s 2012 Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award.
For more information about stroke visit www.rbmc.org/stroke-center, for a free physician referral call 1-800-DOCTORS.