Speaker at Greece parish urges speedy response to stroke - Catholic Courier
A photo of the mobile stroke unit. It looks like an ambulance bay attached to a semi truck cab. A mobile stroke unit that was launched in 2018 operates through UR Medicine. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Speaker at Greece parish urges speedy response to stroke

GREECE — If stroke-like symptoms arise, your long-term health — and possibly even your life — may well depend on your ability to “BE FAST.”

The first five letters of this acronym stand for balance, eyes, face, arms and speech; sudden changes in any of these areas could signal the onset of a stroke. The final letter signifies time — namely, seeking immediate medical assistance for such warning signs.

Julie Battaglia, health and wellness coordinator for Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc., explained that a stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Without oxygen and nutrients necessary for functioning, she said, brain cells can start to die within minutes.

“It’s really important to act fast,” Battaglia told approximately 50 people who attended a “Seniors on the Move” gathering July 25 at St. Mark Church.

Several symptoms might indicate a stroke

Battaglia noted that there are two main types of strokes. One is an ischemic stroke, caused by a clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain. More than 80 percent of strokes are ischemic. Less common is a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by blood vessels that break and bleed into the brain.

Battaglia said a stroke can occur with little or no warning, carrying an intensity ranging from mild to severe. She recommended using the “BE FAST” checklist to detect a stroke:

• Balance: Are you able to walk? Have you lost balance or coordination?

• Eyesight: Has vision become blurred; do you have trouble seeing with one or both eyes?

• Face: Has your face drooped to one side? Are you unable to smile?

• Arms: Has one arm become weak or numb? Can you raise both arms and keep them there?

• Speech: Are you unable to speak or is your speech slurred? Do you have trouble understanding what somebody else is saying?

• Time to call 911 if you, or a bystander, detect any one of these signs. Battaglia stressed that getting immediate medical help — ideally within an hour — is vital in reducing the possibility of death or permanent damage.

Other warning signs of a stroke, according to Battaglia, are a sudden and severe headache; loss of feeling in one side of the body; inability to move; confusion; and dizziness/vomiting.

Mobile stroke unit in Rochester helps speed up response

Battaglia noted that strokes can occur at any age and are most common among older adults; in fact, three audience members at St. Mark acknowledged that they are stroke survivors. She added that strokes affect one out of every five women and one in six men, and are the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. Strokes also can leave victims with paralysis, problems thinking or speaking, emotional issues and/or pain and numbness.

However, Battaglia noted, medical advances are helping save more lives and increase chances for a full recovery. She said Rochester is especially fortunate in that regard, noting that a mobile stroke unit was launched in 2018 that serves Monroe and surrounding counties. The unit, which operates through UR Medicine, is among only a few of its kind in the United States. It is equipped with a portable CT scanner that determines the type of stroke a patient is experiencing; information is then transmitted to a stroke center at Strong Memorial Hospital where experts can determine more quickly how to proceed.

Presenter stresses healthy habits to prevent strokes

Battaglia closed out her presentation by suggesting several ways to reduce the possibility of a stroke ever occurring. She noted, for instance, that exercise is always beneficial, whether that be a vigorous workout at a gym or simply going for a walk.

“Any kind of movement is good for you,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of not smoking, as well as consuming healthy food and drink while doing so in reasonable amounts: “Everything in moderation when it comes to a healthy diet,” she cautioned.

Battaglia added that it’s vital to maintain good levels not only for weight, but also for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar — particularly for people with diabetes and heart disease. She added that these levels should be monitored regularly.

“It’s so important to know what your numbers are,” she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Seniors on the Move, in its 14th year, meets regularly at St. Mark Church, 54 Kuhn Road, Greece. All senior citizens are welcome to join in activities that include lunch, fellowship, games, guests speakers and day trips. For details, call 585-366-4074 or 585-227-7770.

Tags: Health, Monroe County West
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