Rotary told recognizing a stroke promptly is critical

David Broyles

July 23, 2014

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Manager, Stroke-Neuro Services Rayetta Johnson said a stroke occurs every 45 seconds in the United States and only 3.6 percent of those have a chance for a good outcome because it is not identified rapidly enough for treatment.

Johnson made her comments Tuesday at the Mount Airy Rotary Club lunch meeting at Cross Creek Country Club.

“Every minute counts with a stroke,” said Johnson. “Time is brain. You want to save brain which is why we scramble to respond (as a medical team) when the calls come in from emergency medical technicians. ” She told the group strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and they are the leading cause of disability for hospital and nursing home patients.

Johnson told the Rotarians 80 percent of strokes are preventable and can happen to anyone. She explained warning signs may include sudden weakness or numbness in face, arm or leg, sudden difficulty speaking or understanding someone speaking to you, sudden trouble seeing, sudden dizziness, loss of balance or trouble walking, slurred speech and sudden severe headache with no known cause. Johnson told the group these headaches would be worse than migraines.

“Folks, the key thing about strokes is one minute you are normal and one minute you are not. Stoke happens that fast,” Johnson said. “Don’t call your family or doctor’s office. Call 911 to save time and then call others.” She explained prevention of strokes includes managing conditions including sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) which is an irregular heartbeat leading to blood clots, stroke or heart failure. She said high blood pressure is also a silent killer responsible for strokes.

According to Johnson, more children are suffering from strokes and the number of strokes has tripled in ages 15 through 40 in the past eight years.

She told the group those in the South live in the middle of the “Stroke Belt” and said studies have suggested one crucial factor in this is southern cuisines traditionally high in fats and cholesterol. She said these studies also linked Chinese and Mexican cuisines in this same category.

Johnson and a group of other panel members will be featured in a free Stroke Prevention, Awareness & Recovery discussion July 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Jones Family Resource Center in Mount Airy.

David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.