Raising Awareness About Stroke Will Save Lives

Strong Health initiative provides community education about the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

November 13, 2000

Physicians at Strong Memorial Hospital know that educating the community about stroke symptoms and prevention can significantly impact the number of people who seek immediate treatment, saving lives and reducing morbidity.

Stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability. Approximately 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. Yet stroke is treatable and, more importantly, preventable.

To increase awareness, nine free Stroke Prevention Seminars have been scheduled in November in the City of Rochester and its suburbs. Doctors and nurses will talk about the causes of stroke; risk factors - those you can and cannot control; symptoms of stroke; and stroke prevention. The seminars include instruction on how individuals can check their own pulse for an irregular rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, which is a risk factor for stroke.

"Armed with knowledge, individuals can better recognize stroke symptoms in themselves and others and can take the appropriate steps to seek treatment quickly," says says Curtis Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., a neurologist at Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester Medical Center and director of the Stroke Unit.

The Stroke Awareness Seminars are part of Project Believe, Strong Health's 20-year initiative to make Rochester the healthiest community in the nation by the year 2020. The initiative partners Strong Health with schools, employers, churches and other organizations to provide information about healthful lifestyles and develop ways to interrupt cycles of illness and injury.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, causing part of the brain to no longer function normally. The most common cause of stroke is the blockage of a blood vessel in the brain by a blood clot. These clots may form within the artery in the brain or may travel there from the heart or other parts of the body.

Recent studies have demonstrated that a clot-dissolving drug (tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA) can often open a blocked artery, restoring blood flow and minimizing brain damage. However, in order to work safely and effectively, t-PA must be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms.

The Stroke Prevention Seminars also include a self-screening technique that teaches individuals to check their own pulse and recognize atrial fibrillation. AF is a relatively common heart rhythm abnormality in which the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) beat out of rhythm with the rest of the heart, causing blood to pool and often resulting in clot formation. People with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to suffer a stroke but AF is one of the controllable factors in stroke.

"By raising awareness in the community about stroke symptoms, patients will hopefully seek treatment as soon as possible, greatly increasing their chances of recovery," Benesch says.

For more information about stroke, to receive a free brochure on how to check your pulse, or to register for a Stroke Prevention Seminar, call (716) 275-2838, or visit the Strong Health web site at www.stronghealth.com for interactive health risk assessments and information about stroke.

For Media Inquiries:
Karin Christensen
(585) 275-1311
Email Karin Christensen