Denver Residents Urged to Be Aware of Signs and Symptoms
(Denver, CO) Nearly 800,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year, yet most people in the U.S. cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors. HealthONE Stroke Care hopes to change that during May’s National Stroke Awareness Month with the introduction of its new Stroke Risk Profiler, an online assesment tool for adults of all ages.
Denver-area residents looking for more information about their risk of stroke, as well as what to look for, can visit http://www.healthonecares.com/stroke_center/stroke-assessment.htm to take the short assessment. There, individuals can learn about the impact of strokes, explore their personal risk factors and learn how to mitigate the risks. Many strokes – some studies indicate that up to 80 percent – can be prevented through risk factor management, says Dr. Chris Fanale, HealthONE Stroke and CO-DOC Medical Director. Unfortunately, public awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors continues to lag behind, but May is a time to change this startling statistic, he says.
“A Stroke is an emergency! It’s important to learn stroke warning signs and how to respond to them,” Dr. Fanale says. “Emergency treatment may be available by acting FAST and calling 9-1-1.”
HealthONE is asking all Denver residents to remember the FAST test as a method of recognizing warning signs:
F – Face: Ask the person to smile, is one side of the face drooping down?
A – Arm: Can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing? Is the person able to speak?
T - Time: Time is critical. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Every second counts in minimizing the damage a stroke can cause to the brain – quick assessment and personalized care are key, says Dr. Fanale. In fact, HealthONE recently introduced new technology that offers remote stroke care. Its InTouch Health Remote Presence® telemedicine technology includes a camera and microphone for live two-way audio and video, and a computer, on a sleep, wheeled cart that is placed in an ER room. A CO-DOC/HealthONE Stroke Care specialist can connect a computer and joystick to the Remote Presence® unit via the Internet, and appear instantly on screen at the bedside of patients, much like video conferencing, interacting with family members and clinical staff in the room. The stroke specialist can control and zoom the camera to get closer to the patient, while accessing remote medical devices like electronic stethoscopes, otoscopes and monitoring.
Dr. Fanale reminds Denver residents that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people aged 65 years or older. However, the CDC reports that strokes are hitting younger individuals too, raising concerns about an entirely new group of the U.S. population. The chances of having a stroke double each decade after the age of 55. Nearly 25 percent of strokes occur in people younger than age 65. For decades, the southeastern United States has had the highest stroke mortality rates in the country, although it’s not completely clear what factors contribute to the higher incidence of and mortality from stroke in this region. People with a family history of stroke are more likely to have a stroke, and by 2030, it is estimated that 4 million people will have had a stroke. This is nearly 25 percent higher than 2010 estimates.
“Immediate medical care of stroke can mean the different between life and death,” Dr. Fanale says. “During a stroke, an estimated 30,000 brain cells die per second; a patient’s outcomes and recovery are far better the quicker you can evaluate and treat the stroke.”
HealthONE is the largest healthcare system in the metro Denver area with 8,700 employees and 3,000 affiliated physicians. The health system is a Colorado company created in 1995 as a 50/50 joint venture between non-profit The Colorado Health Foundation, Colorado’s second largest charitable foundation, and various affilites of HCA (NYSE: HCA).
HealthONE includes: The Medical Center of Aurora and Centennial Medical Plaza; North Suburban Medical Center; Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (P/SL) and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children; Rose Medical Center; Sky Ridge Medical Center; Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital; Swedish Medical Center and Swedish Southwest ER; 13 ambulatory surgical centers; more than 30 occupational medicine/rehabilitation, specialty, and outpatient diagnostic imaging clinics; and AIRLIFE Denver, which provides critical care air and ground transportation for an eight-state region.