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HonorHealth: Amid National Stroke Awareness Month it’s a great time for us to BE FAST!

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Victor Zach, MD, neurologist and stroke specialist at HonorHealth offers insights into cutting-edge stroke care at the leading local health care provider. (Photo Courtesy: HonorHealth/DigitalFreePress)

HonorHealth offers staggering reality of propensity for stroke in America

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Every 40 seconds, an American suffers a stroke.

Every four minutes, someone dies from a stroke, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. A stroke happens when there is a lack of blood flow to the brain causing damage to your brain cells. The longer it takes to get medical care, the worse the outcome will be.

“The brain loses about 1.9 million neurons for each minute a stroke goes untreated, and blood flow to the brain continues to be blocked,” explains Victor Zach, MD, neurologist and stroke specialist, who is an independent member of the HonorHealth medical staff. “Acting quickly to limit brain damage and save the person’s ability to function normally is crucial. If enough time passes, the damage caused to the brain is irreversible.”

Up to 80% of strokes are preventable. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), certain lifestyle factors and conditions increase your risk for stroke. The most common include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cigarette smoking. Additional risk factors include high cholesterol, being overweight, alcohol use and not getting enough physical activity.

Demographic factors can also contribute to an increased risk of stroke or death from stroke. African Americans are at greater risk of suffering a stroke than Caucasians, followed by Hispanic and Native Americans. Stroke risk also increases with age, with 75% of strokes occurring in people 65 years and older. It also varies by gender; men are more likely than women to have a stroke.

The challenge with a stroke is that it impairs the brain’s ability to function. The person having the stroke may have altered perceptions and lose the ability to communicate. This can make it very difficult or impossible for them to tell someone or know what’s happening.

“I had a colleague who was a neurologist and treated many stroke victims over the years,” Zach shares.

“One evening, she came home thinking she was experiencing a migraine. It turned out that she was having a stroke but couldn’t recognize it, even though she herself was a stroke doctor. My colleague’s husband recognized the signs, called 911, and got her to the ICU as quickly as possible. This experience made it clear to me how important it is for everyone to know the symptoms and act fast to help save lives.”

Symptoms can be identified using the acronym BE FAST:
  • B – Balance: Is the person experiencing sudden loss of balance or coordination?
  • E – Eyes: Is the person experiencing sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes or sudden double vision?
  • F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred, garbled, or strange?
  • T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.

“Please don’t hesitate to get help if you notice stroke symptoms in someone else,” Zach implores. “It’s important not to ask them what to do or believe them if they say they’re all right, because, unfortunately, they probably don’t know. Being vigilant and acting quickly can make all the difference in someone’s life.”

Zach serves as a passionate advocate for patient well-being, is part of the dedicated neurocritical care and stroke team at HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center and HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center, two of four primary stroke centers in the HonorHealth network.

In addition, HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center is a designated comprehensive stroke center, one of a select few in Arizona, providing expert critical care across the Valley

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