May is Stroke Awareness Month and Ochsner Health System along with its partners St. Tammany Parish Hospital, Slidell Memorial Hospital and Terrebonne General Medical Center are providing tips on stroke prevention and treatment.

According to the American Stroke Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. That translates into nearly 800,000 people each year. In addition, every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke.

Dr. Joseph Tarsia, Vascular Neurology, Ochsner Comprehensive Stroke Center, says the simplest way to help prevent a stroke is to take care of yourself and maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising daily.

“Patients need to control the diseases that make them more likely to have a stroke, like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” explains Dr. Tarsia. “It is also extremely important to also avoid smoking, drinking in excess and using illicit drugs.”

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain "clogs" up, depriving brain tissue of blood and nutrients it needs. The result is that thousands of brain cells begin to die almost immediately and that affects motor skills, coordination, speech and comprehension. It is extremely important that someone who is showing signs of stroke remembers the acronym F.A.S.T. to lower the risk of death or disability:

  • F is for face – is your face drooping?
  • A is for arms – can you lift both arms?
  • S is for speech – are you slurring your words?
  • T is for time, call 9-1-1 immediately because with a stroke, time is brain.

Symptoms include: sudden onset weakness and/or numbness in one side of the body, difficulty speaking or comprehending others, slurred speech, facial droop, difficulty with vision, imbalance or severe headache.

Treatment for stroke symptoms is often a race against the clock.

Ochsner Health System and these partners offer a unique Telestroke Program, which joins experts from both facilities to consult immediately with Ochsner vascular neurologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, using telemedicine equipment to determine the best treatment options for stroke patients.

The Ochsner Telestroke Program includes more than 50 participating hospitals throughout Louisiana and Mississippi and has completed more than 10,500 consults across both states.

Ochsner is the only program within Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas listed in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking across four specialty categories, where it is number 24 in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery.

To learn more about your stroke risk, take your assessment today at www.ochsner.org/strokehra.

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