Stroke awareness

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) - Dr. Kelly Matmati of Rochester Regional Health discussed signs of stroke, why more younger people are suffering strokes and preventative measures to avoid a stroke Friday on News 8 at Sunrise.

"Strokes can happen at any time," said Dr. Matmati. "That's one of the characteristics of a stroke is that it really comes out of the blue and hits you like a truck. You were fine one minute, and all of sudden you have symptoms. Those symptoms typically are a weakness on one side of the body -- in an arm or a leg -- or weakness in the face with a facial droop. Sometimes you can have speech difficulty, whether it's slurred speech, difficulty thinking of the words or getting your words out. Sometimes there's a loss of vision, particularly on one side."

A stroke is a cut-off of blood flow to a part of the brain. "Our brain needs blow flow continuously for it to keep functioning," Dr. Matmati explained. "When blood flow is cut off to the brain, neurons start to die. Neurons -- our brain cells -- during a stroke can die at a rate of one-point-nine million per minute."

More and more younger people are suffering strokes according to Dr. Matmati.  "There was a recent study that came out that showed that the incidents of stroke in patients in their thirties and forties has increased over the last ten years or so," she said. "Along with that, those patients are having an increase in the number of traditional stroke risk factors; risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking."
If you or a loved one have any of those symptoms described by Dr. Matmati, there is an acronym to help you remember what those symptoms are and what to do. The acronym is FAST. That's "Face" for a facial drop or facial asymmetry. "Arm," for an arm that's weak or dips down. "S" is for "speech," so any acute onset of speech abnormalities, and "T" stands for "time, as in time to call 9-1-1. "You don't call your doctor or drive to the hospital," Dr. Matmati said. "You call 9-1-1, and by calling 9-1-1, you can get to the hospital faster. The ambulance crew will actually call ahead to the hospital to let them know that you're coming so that they can be ready for you. They'll whisk you right off and start evaluating you."
Dr. Matmati also stressed some of the preventative measures we can take to help avoid a stroke. "The most important thing is to know your risk factors for stroke and to treat those risk factors," she said. "High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors, so you should be seeing your doctor and getting checkups. Find out if you have high blood pressure, and if you do, treat that. Treat your other stroke risk factors like diabetes. If you have diabetes, high cholesterol... and if you're smoking, you need to quit smoking."
For more information, visit the Rochester Regional Health website and search for stroke, click here.



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