Spring 2011
Stroke…What are the Chances?

Heart Beats, Inc. Welcomes You!
FREE Lecture: “Heart Rhythm Disorders: Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment”
With Catherine Wright, APRN
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
6:00 p.m.Refreshments and conversation
Bridgeport Hospital,
Café 267 Second Floor
6:30 p.m.Speaker and discussion,
Hollander Auditorium, Fourth Floor

Sharing & Caring Group
Wednesdays, May 18 & June 15, 2011
6:00 p.m.New Location for 2011!Cardiac Rehabilitation & Wellness Programs,
Brick Walk Professional Building,
1305 Post Road, Suite 105, Fairfield
Open to cardiac patients from any hospital, their loved ones and anyone interested in heart disease. Share your experiences and concerns and learn from others with similar experiences.

Stroke…What are the Chances?

A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack” or a cerebrovascular accident, happens when the brain doesn’t get the blood it needs. There are two types of strokes. Both cause brain cells to die. The more common type is an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel or artery in the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the brain. It’s a myth that strokes occur only in older adults. Stroke can happen to anyone of any age, race or gender, at any time.

Certain factors increase the risk of stroke. The good news is that many strokes can be prevented. Understanding what may trigger a stroke can reduce your chances of having a stroke.

What are the Risk Factors?
According to the National Stroke Association, risk factors for stroke typically fall into two categories: controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable risk factors are beyond your control (age, race, gender, family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack). Controllable risk factors (such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol or diabetes, as well as obesity, smoking and alcohol use) can usually be managed through lifestyle changes and/or medication.

Need a Doctor?

For a referral to an expert physician affiliated with Bridgeport Hospital, please call us toll free, 24/7, at 1-888-357-2396 or visit www.bridgeporthospital.org/FindPhysician.
Could You Have a Stroke?
  • Are you over age 65?
    Two-thirds of all strokes happen to people over age 65.
  • Are you male?
    Men have a slightly higher stroke risk than women.
  • Does your family have a history of stroke?
    If someone in your family has had a stroke, your chances could be higher.
  • Do you have diabetes?
    People with diabetes have a high stroke risk.
  • Are you of African-American or Hispanic descent?
    African Americans and some Hispanics have two to three times the stroke risk of most other racial groups.

Having one or more uncontrollable risk factors does not necessarily mean you will have a stroke. It does mean that you should pay special attention to lifestyle factors and treatable medical disorders to reduce overall risk.

Bridgeport Hospital
Controllable Risk Factors: Lifestyle
  • Do you smoke?
    Smoking doubles your risk for stroke.
  • Do you have more than two alcoholic beverages a day?
    Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages per day may increase your risk for stroke by as much as three times.
  • Are you overweight?
    Excess weight can contribute to other stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can significantly decrease your risk for stroke.

Controllable Risk Factors: Medical Conditions
  • Is your blood pressure consistently higher than 135/85?
    High blood pressure (hypertension) makes you four to six times more likely to have a stroke, yet it is the single most controllable stroke risk factor. Your doctor may recommend reducing salt, losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising and/or taking medication.
  • Do you have an irregular heartbeat?
    Atrial fibrillation (AF) can increase your stroke risk four to six times, but it can be treated.
  • Is your cholesterol level more than 200?
    High cholesterol can put you at greater risk. Most people can control their cholesterol levels through diet and exercise; some may need a prescription.
  • Have you already had a TIA or stroke?
    Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs or mini-strokes) are brief episodes of stroke symptoms that usually last only a few minutes and do not result in brain damage. More than one-third of all people who experience TIAs will have a stroke. If you have already had a stroke, you may be up to 10 times more likely to have another.

Please note: Information is from the National Stroke Association, www.stroke.org. This not intended as medical advice. Talk to your physician about any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

Recognize and Respond
A stroke can harm the brain quickly, so it’s important to know the signs of stroke and get treatment immediately. “The effects of stroke are serious, but fast treatment can result in a better recovery,” says Michael Werdmann, MD, Co-Director of the Stroke Center at Bridgeport Hospital. “For certain types of stroke, and under special conditions, a powerful ‘clot buster’ drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), when given within 4 1/2 hours from the time stroke symptoms begin, can stop ischemic stroke, save lives and reduce the amount of permanent damage.”

Unfortunately, tPA isn’t given as often as it could be because many people don’t seek care quickly. If you suspect someone is experiencing stroke symptoms, act FAST using these simple signs of stroke.

FAST is an acronym to help you remember the most common signs of a stroke.

F = FACE: Ask the person to smile or show teeth.
Normal: Both sides of the face move equally or not at all.
Abnormal: One side of the person’s face droops with a crooked smile.
A = ARM: Ask the person to raise both arms.
Normal: Both arms remain raised equally.
Abnormal: One arm is numb or weak.
S = SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
Normal: Phrase is repeated clearly and correctly.
Abnormal: Words are slurred or person is unable to speak.
T = TIME: Call 911 at any sign of stroke and get the person to the hospital immediately.

Other symptoms include loss of vision in one eye, sudden headache, confusion, dizziness or instability.

Stop Before it Starts
“To reduce your chances of having a stroke, it’s important to control as many of your risk factors as possible,” says neurologist Philip Barasch, MD, Co-Director of the Stroke Center at Bridgeport Hospital. He recommends quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and talking with your doctor about living healthfully.

The Primary Stroke Center
at Bridgeport Hospital

Bridgeport Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center as certified by The Joint Commission and designated by the State of Connecticut. The Stroke Center uses state-of-the-art equipment and its rapid response stroke team to immediately evaluate and diagnose stroke patients, 24/7. “We have a patient-centered focus on stroke detection and management across the entire healthcare spectrum, from emergency medical services through rehabilitation,” says Elizabeth Crespo, RN, Stroke/Neurovascular Coordinator. “Doctors, nurses, therapists and other specialists work with patients and their families to design a plan of recovery tailored to each patient’s personal goals.”