May is Stroke Awareness Month and Alameda Health System’s (AHS) Primary Stroke Center at Alameda Hospital would like to remind you that when it comes to stroke, every second counts! Nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke remains untreated.

Rapid access to medical treatment can make the difference between full recovery and permanent disability.

Since 2011 the AHS, Alameda Hospital Primary Stroke Center has saved the lives of many community members in their most critical time of need. Alameda Hospital is a member of the American Stroke Association’s Honor Roll, having achieved Gold Plus and Elite Award distinctions. In April 2022, the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association-American Stroke Association re-accredited Alameda Hospital as a primary stroke center.

“When it comes to strokes, we know that seconds count and getting our patients care quickly is dire. That’s why re-accreditation is so important. Our stroke team did a phenomenal job highlighting the critical stroke care we provide. I especially need to commemorate those who participated with the surveyor. Not only were they courageous they were also impressive,” said Rebecca Hidalgo Salomon, AHS Stroke Coordinator. “We take pride in our passion for stroke excellence and teamwork in delivering quality patient centered care to our community.”

A stroke occurs when blood flow to your brain is disrupted, causing your brain to be deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Major risk factors of stroke include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and smoking. It is important to learn and recognize the warning signs of a stroke.

The risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered with timely treatment. “BE FAST” and recognize the signs or symptoms of a stroke:

  • B – Balance: Watch for a sudden loss of balance. Is the person leaning to one side or staggering when walking?
  • E – Eyes: Is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes? Double vision that doesn’t go away when you blink your eyes. No side vision or vision above midline?
  • F – Face: Ask the person to smile or stick out their tongue. Is the smile uneven, is the tongue deviated to one side or does one side of the face droop? A bit of drooling out of that side of the face may be present.
  • A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is there sudden loss of coordination, numbness, weakness of that arm? For example, is the person suddenly unable to pick up a coffee cup or get it to his or her mouth? Does the arm or leg feel numb, or do they want to shake it all the time to wake it up like it’s asleep.
  • S – SpeechSudden difficulty in speaking or understanding. Can the person repeat a simple phrase? Does the speech sound slurred/strange/garbled? Does the person say he or she has a thick tongue or have difficulty swallowing?
  • T – Time: What do you do if you observe any of these signs in yourself or in someone you are with? Call 911; do not drive the person to the local emergency room. By contacting EMS, assessment and treatment can be started prior to arrival to the Emergency Department and time (brain) is saved. If known, note the time the patient was last seen well and give this information to emergency personnel along with any information you may have regarding the persons current medications. This will help determine what treatment the person is eligible for.

Be informed, BE FAST, act immediately. Don’t wait to see if symptoms go away. Call 9-1-1 right away. Every minute counts.