Strokes are in the top five causes of deaths in the United States—being knowledgeable about strokes and preventive measures is critical. That is why Franciscan Health wants to provide information and education regarding strokes during Stroke Awareness Month in May.

Strokes occur when there is a blockage of blood flow to the brain. It can cause minor to serious disabilities as well as death. While there is no age-limit for strokes, they are most common in adults over age 65. They are also more likely to occur when there are unhealthy lifestyle factors involved in a person’s everyday life like an unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol misuse, lack of exercise and more. Additionally, those with health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heart rhythm, heart disease and diabetes are at a higher risk for stroke as well.

What Can Be Done?

Knowing risk factors, signs and symptoms of a stroke are important to help prevent major effects should a stroke occur and to even help prevent one from occurring at all.

To help you remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke, remember: BE FAST.

  • Balance – Sudden loss or coordination
  • Eyes – Sudden vision change, blurry, double or loss of vision
  • Face – Sudden facial droop or uneven smile
  • Arm – Sudden arm weakness or numbness on one side
  • Speech – Suddenly slurred, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Time – Call 911 and get to the hospital immediately!

Reaching a hospital and assistance from medical professionals as soon as possible is critical when it comes to a stroke. The longer a stroke victim goes without medical assistance, the higher the risk of critical complications, as well as death.

According to the National Stroke Association, 40% of stroke victims experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care. Most people who survive a stroke will have some type of disability. For the best chance of improvement and regaining abilities, rehabilitation should start as soon as possible after stroke.

Did You Know?

Risk of Suicide: According to Medscape, stroke survivors have a 73% higher risk for suicide than those who have not had a stroke. A stroke can lead to loss of ability to work, increased social isolation and can cause feelings of “despair” in their victims. A stroke is considered an independent risk factor for depression.

Higher Risk of Stroke with COVID-19: According to Medscape, findings from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry, including more than 20,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with COVID-19 from March to November 2020 showed an overall rate of ischemic stroke of 0.75% which is higher than that seen with other infections such as influenza or sepsis.

How Can Franciscan Health Help?

Franciscan Health Crown Point, Hammond, Dyer and Michigan City are certified by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) as Primary Stroke Centers. Franciscan Health Munster will apply for certification as a Primary Stroke Center and can provide time sensitive treatment for the acute stroke patient. Once consolidated, Franciscan Health Hammond will be certified as “Stroke Ready” through the same accreditation program, with the ability to administer Activase, a time sensitive medication for ischemic strokes to help reestablish blood flow to the area.

Franciscan Health’s Lake County campuses provide Telestroke services through our partnership with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the Michigan City campus partners with Teladoc Services. Telestroke brings the expertise of a comprehensive stroke center remotely to the patient’s bedside and aids the stroke team in critical decision-making for time-sensitive treatment options, which also includes the ability to immediately begin the process for neurointerventional services, if indicated.

Additionally, Franciscan Health Crown Point has a newly remodeled inpatient rehabilitation department equipped with top-of-the-line technology built to meet the recovery needs of our stroke patients. Franciscan Health Dyer offers an inpatient rehabilitation unit equipped to provide quality care to stroke patients and improve patient outcomes. Franciscan Health Michigan City has both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation departments with top-of-the-line technology to suit a variety of stroke victims.

For more information, please contact our stroke coordinators:

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. The quicker a patient receives care, the better their chances of recovery. You can trust Franciscan Health to care for you from stroke treatment to rehabilitation.