Strokes, also known as brain attacks, affect 795,000 people each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are one of the leading causes of death and no. 1 cause of long-term physical disability, such as paralysis, speech difficulties and emotional changes.
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, according to University Comprehensive Stroke Center specialists. Parts of the brain become damaged or die. Although the risk increases with age, strokes can happen at any age. Nearly 25 percent of strokes occur in people under the age of 65 nationally, but the number is increased to almost double in Mississippi.
Recognizing the need for specialized care, UMMC initiated one of the first stroke-focused units in the United States in the late 1960s. In 2008, an acute care stroke unit, combining leading-edge technology, expertise and specialty care, opened at University Hospital.
Today, UMMC provides highly coordinated expertise at every level of care through University Comprehensive Stroke Center. The center is supported by state-of-the-art technology and facilities, including a six-bed dedicated stroke unit and a 20-bed neurosciences intensive care unit.
In recognition of its quality stroke care, UMMC has received the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's "Get With the Guidelines" – Stroke Gold Achievement Award. The award honors University Comprehensive Stroke Center for commitment to providing stroke patients with rapid diagnosis and treatment according to the latest evidence-based standards and guidelines. The "Get With the Guidlines" award recognizes the center for "turning guidelines into lifelines."
University Comprehensive Stroke Center provides rapid diagnosis and treatment with brain imaging scans, neurological evaluations, clot-busting medications and surgery when needed. The continuum of care continues with aggressive medical care and rehabilitation followed by education and prevention measures to help patients reduce the risk of a second stroke. While the national average is 3% of patients receiving clot-busting medications, University Comprehensive Stroke Center treats up to 26% of stroke patients with clot-busting medication and an addition 3% with surgical intervention.
As part of its rapid response protocol, University of Mississippi Medical Center has medical helicopters ready to transport patients when time is a critical factor. On board each medical flight are dedicated flight nurses and flight paramedics specially trained to respond to medical emergencies.
Strokes strike fast
On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes. About 5,000 Mississippians experience their first stroke each year and more than 1,500 die, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
When a stroke happens, it is important to recognize the symptoms, call 911 and get to a hospital quickly for emergency treatment.
Learning the symptoms of stroke – and acting fast when they occur – can help save your life or that of a loved one. Call 911 immediately.
Common stroke symptoms for men and women include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Women may experience unique symptoms, including:
- Sudden face and limb pain.
- Sudden hiccups.
- Sudden general weakness.
- Sudden chest pain.
- Sudden shortness of breath.
- Sudden palpitation.
Act F.A.S.T when stroke occurs
Use the F.A.S.T. test to help recognize stroke symptoms:
- 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 sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
- T – Time. If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 911.