If You Suspect Stroke, Act FAST
At the first sign of stroke, you need experts who can promptly diagnose and treat. The experienced neurologists at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital provide coordinated response and specialized stroke services 24 hours a day.
Our Primary Stroke Centers at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals are certified by The Joint Commission and focus on improving long-term outcomes for stroke patients and providing community awareness and education.
What is a Stroke
A stroke is the result of sudden loss of blood flow to the brain due to blood vessel blockage or clot burst. Loss of blood flow deprives the brain of oxygen and glucose (sugar), and causes rapid buildup of waste products that injure or kill brain cells. When brain cells are injured or die, the bodily functions they control such as speech or use of limbs are impaired or lost. Stroke can also affect your memory, ability to understand and emotions.
Types of Stroke
There are three types of stroke:
- Ischemic strokes are the most common type. They're caused when blood vessels leading to the brain become blocked, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain.
- Transient ischemic attacks(TIAs) are indicators of a high risk for stroke. In a TIA, the blood clot occurs for a short time and resolves itself. Although TIAs are temporary, they're strong indicators of a possible major stroke.
- Hemorrhagic strokes occur when blood vessels in or around the brain break.
Signs and Symptoms
Watch for these signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke:
- Trouble with speaking and understanding
- Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden, severe headache
When a patient shows signs of a possible stroke, a Stroke Alert is called, quickly putting the wheels in motion to assemble a specialized team, consult a neurologist and perform a CT scan to diagnose the type of stroke. Depending on the type of stroke, patients may receive a medication to quickly dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain.
Stroke Prevention and Treatment
Our stroke treatment and prevention efforts include:
- Assessment for and treatment of heart rhythms that may contribute to stroke
- Administration medications designed to reduce the chance of recurrent stroke
- Therapies aimed at preventing additional blood clots from developing in the extremities
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Patient and family education
FACE: Face Drooping– Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
ARMS: Arm Weakness– Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH: Speech Difficulty– Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
TIME: Time to call 911– If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.
How Do I Minimize My Risk for Stroke?
Many risk factors can be controlled or treated to reduce your chance of having a stroke:
- High blood pressure – limit salt intake, exercise regularly, and take medications as prescribed
- Tobacco use and smoking – your doctor can offer programs to help you quit
- Alcohol use – do not have more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men
- Diabetes – control your blood sugar through proper diet, exercise and medication
- High cholesterol – eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; reduce intake of red meat, dairy products and eggs; exercise; and take medications as prescribed
- Excessive weight and physical inactivity – try to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day
If you are concerned about your risk of stroke talk to your doctor.
Dignity Health Memorial Hospital recently earned Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center (TSC) certification from The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA). This certification signifies the hospital meets rigorous standards for performing mechanical endovascular thrombectomy (EVT), a specialized surgical procedure used to remove a blood clot from the brain during an ischemic stroke.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and more than 87 percent of cases are ischemic strokes caused by a clot that cuts off blood flow to a part of the brain. These types of strokes are largely treatable if a patient gets to a hospital that can provide the right treatment in time.
Memorial Hospital was evaluated during an onsite review for compliance with the TSC requirements that were developed with input from experts on comprehensive stroke treatment and stroke program management.