Valley Medical Center Urges the Community to be Aware of Stroke Symptoms during May – National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. In order to help the community understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability in the United States†, Valley Medical Center (VMC) is launching a community awareness initiative on the risk factors or signs of stroke.

“Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies from a stroke,” said Peter Balousek, MD, Interim Stroke Director, Valley Medical Center. “The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery.” †

This was certainly true for Chris, a 44 year-old security officer at VMC who suffered a stroke last year while at home. Fortunately his wife his wife was with him and called 9-1-1. Chris was rushed to VMC’s Emergency Department and received tPA, a clot busting agent and the only approved drug for the urgent treatment of ischemic stroke, just 45 minutes after arriving. Because of the fast action of his wife, paramedics and ED clinicians he was able to go home just four days after his life-threatening stroke. You can read more about Chris’s story in the Winter 2012 issue of Valley Voices.

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.

“If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST – F-A-S-T,” said Dr. Balousek. “F is for face - is your face drooping? A is for arms – can you lift both arms? S is for speech – are you slurring your words and T is for time, call 9-1-1 immediately because with stroke, time is brain.” †

The primary stroke symptoms include:

• Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or facial drooping

• Sudden numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

For more information about stroke, visit

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2013; 127:e133-242; Epub Dec 12, 2012. American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75231