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Joe Poelker

Release Date: 5/1/2014

Learn the warning signs of stroke to help save lives

Stroke hits an estimated 795,000 Americans every year, killing about 130,000 of them – that’s one out of every 19 deaths. About four million stroke survivors in America are now living with disabilities. You can help prevent some of these deaths and disabilities in two steps: recognize the signs of stroke and seek immediate help when you suspect you or someone else is suffering a stroke.

There are different types of stroke, but the warning signs are the same. Watch for sudden changes like numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, changes in speech including slurred speech or inability to speak, trouble understanding others, confusion, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness or loss of balance, and severe headaches for an unknown reason.

That is a lot of information to remember, so here’s a simple reminder: FAST – Face, Arms, Speech, Time. Time is important because quick treatment is key to surviving and recovering from a stroke. Patients who receive treatment within three hours typically are much healthier within three months compared to patients who wait more than three hours for treatment.

St. Anthony’s Medical Center was one of only five hospitals in the St. Louis area and one of ten hospitals in Missouri to be named a Level 1 Stroke Center, the highest designation, when the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began the new designations for stroke care. That means we have the resources to treat stroke quickly and effectively. Even if you cannot get to St. Anthony’s or another facility equipped to treat stroke quickly, make sure you get to an emergency room right away.

You may think you are not at risk for stroke because you are not elderly; think again. One-third of stroke victims are younger than 65 years. You are at a higher risk if you are a man older than 45, a woman older than 55, smoke, are overweight, have coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an abnormal heart beat, or a family history of heart attack or stroke.

There are ways you can lower your stroke risk: eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, be active, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, and work with your doctor to treat any health conditions that increase your risk.

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Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well­ being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.