02-23-2022 Primetime Living - Flipbook - Page 8
8 A Special Advertising Section of Baltimore Sun Media Group | Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Take action to
recognize a stroke
By Linda L. Esterson, Contributing Writer
troke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. As many as
142,000 people die each year following a stroke, and according to the
American Stroke Association, about 795,000 Americans have a new or recur-
rent stroke each year.
A stroke is acute damage to the brain
which occurs when an artery leading
to the brain is partially or fully blocked,
severely limiting blood supply, according to Francis Mwaisela, M.D., chief of
neurology at University of Maryland St.
Joseph Medical Center. As the brain has
no means to store food, it functions with
the nutrients and oxygen supplied in the
blood, delivered from the main artery connecting to the heart. When that delivery
is compromised, the brain reacts, and
the results can be paralyzing or deadly.
“The disruption is usually caused by clots,
which slow down the blood flow to certain
parts of the brain, which is manifested by
a stroke,” Dr. Mwaisela explains.
Three types of strokes may occur.
Ischemic strokes occur when clots block,
or occlude, the supply of blood to the
brain. This can occur gradually as blockages enlarge and blood supply is minimized over time. A transient ischemic
stroke is a minor stroke, often referred to
as a mini stroke, that does not cause permanent damage. Hemorrhagic strokes,
or bleeds, occur when weakened blood
vessels rupture and bleeding occurs in
the area around the brain, compressing
brain tissue. The most common strokes
are ischemic strokes, according to Dr.
The mantra “Time is Brain” is top of
mind, considering billions of brain cells
can die in a short period of time when
there is an occlusion. A stroke is a major
medical emergency, necessitating an
immediate call to 911 for transport to the
hospital. “We need to limit the damage
from those cells that have already died
and protect those cells that are in danger
of dying,” says Dr. Mwaisela. “And we’re
trying to protect the healthy brain that we
hope will still be able to function after the
event has occurred.”
Because time is brain, it’s important to
be aware what someone who is having a
stroke may experience. The acronym B.E.
F.A.S.T. was created to make it easy to
recognize the signs of stroke.
B = Balance
Does the person have a sudden
loss of balance? Do them seem
E = Eyes
Has the person lost vision in one
or both eyes?
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? Is there weakness?
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 9-1-1 or
get to the nearest stroke center
Other possible signs include severe
headache with no known cause and
numbness in the face, arms or legs, espe-
cially down one side of the body, according to the American Stroke Association.
“The assumption is that if you’re having any of these symptoms, brain cells
are dying,” Dr. Mwaisela explains. “The
sooner you can get to the hospital, the
better.” Patients can receive powerful
clot-busting medications if they arrive
within four-and-one-half hours of onset of
symptoms. Receiving treatment as soon
as possible will result in less damage to
the brain and the best possible chance
The clot-busting medication, known
as IVtPA or intravenous tissue plasminogen activator, is administered for a majority of ischemic strokes. However, if the
clot occurs in one of the larger vessels,
surgery may be necessary and emergency medical personnel will transport
the patient to a designated comprehensive stroke center, like the University
of Maryland Medical Center and Johns
Hopkins Hospital, or an advanced thrombectomy capable stroke center, like Sinai
Hospital, for surgery.
Dr. Mwaisela encourages individuals
experiencing symptoms to not let the
coronavirus pandemic dissuade them
from calling for transportation to the hos-
Stroke, continued on next page