Staff from Northern Hospital of Surry County were on hand at the Mayberry Mall to facilitate stroke risk screenings Friday.
Debbie Moser, the hospital’s stroke program coordinator, said many folks haven’t made the “connection” to the symptoms of a stroke. She said people’s knowledge of stroke symptoms stand out in contrast to those of a heart attack, which are widely known.
Friday Moser and other Northern Hospital staff members were at the mall from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and they had a few missions — raise awareness of stroke symptoms, provide stroke risk screenings including blood pressure readings and to let people in the community know the hospital is now a primary stroke center.
Moser said symptoms of a stroke include one side of a person’s face drooping, weakness or loss of feeling in an arm and slurred or strange speech.
Time is of the essence when treating a stroke victim, according to Moser.
“We have three to four hours,” explained Moser. “Then the damage becomes permanent.”
Moser said 85 percent of strokes are caused by blood clots. It’s imperative to quickly give patients the medicine needed to break up the clot. Though a neurologist isn’t always on duty at the hospital, one is always available.
“If we have a possible stroke case we send them directly for a CT scan,” said Moser. “Then we set up a tele-consult with a neurologist.”
She said the clock is ticking throughout that process, and the less time which passes, the less disability with which a person will have to cope.
As about 100 folks stopped by to have their blood pressure taken as they meandered around the mall, Moser explained blood pressure is an important factor in preventing strokes.
She explained some folks have had a slow onset of high blood pressure. Thus, they may not even recognize any symptoms. A stop by the mall on Friday could have helped any number of folks identify concerns about high blood pressure.
“People also forget to be concerned about chronic high blood pressure,” noted Moser. “Years of plaque build-up in arteries can create turbulent blood flow and can weaken blood vessels.”
She said there’s plenty a person can do to lessen his or her risk of stroke, including exercising, losing weight, quitting smoking and eating a healthier diet.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.