A hub for Marshall Medical Centers events and information.

Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 12:00 AM

How to recognize and prevent strokes

The numbers are scary.

Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. It is the fifth highest cause of death in the country. 

“It’s a very common thing we see happening these days,” Allison Trammell, Marshall Medical’s stroke coordinator said. Trammell spoke to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) group in Albertville about how to recognize a stroke so you can act fast to minimize damage.

How to recognize a stroke

The most important thing to know when a stroke happens is to move quickly. 

“If you get to the hospital soon enough, we can reduce the risk of those long-term effects,” warned Trammell, a nurse at Marshall North. “We want to act fast when it comes to a stroke."

An acronym makes it easy to remember how to recognize a stroke – FAST.

F – Face drooping

A – Arm weakness

S – Speech difficulty

T – Time to call 911

How to prevent a stroke

Trammell also shared Life’s Simple 7 to help prevent a stroke:

Manage blood pressure

Control cholesterol

Reduce blood sugar

Get active

Eat better

Lose weight

Stop smoking

To help people in Marshall County have access to stroke treatment fast, Marshall Medical joined the North Alabama Stroke Network, which connects 10 hospitals with a group of neurologists in Huntsville. The network makes 24-hour access to a neurologist possible for rural communities. 

Called teleneurology, the network allows a physician in Huntsville to evaluate a patient miles away using a high-definition camera. If the patient qualifies, the neurologist can order a clot-bursting drug called TPA to be administered.  Patients who receive TPA are three times more likely to recover with no debilitating effects than stroke patients who don’t get it, Trammell says. 

The key is that the drug can only be given within a short time after symptoms begin, requiring stroke victims to get to the closest emergency room as soon as possible.