Stroke is the third leading cause of death, and the leading cause of disability nationwide. May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and San Mateo County is using this time to help residents learn about the risk factors and symptoms for stroke, and how immediately calling 9-1-1 in the event of a stroke can make the difference between life and death, and long-term disability.
On May 1, San Mateo County stroke hospitals, Peninsula Stroke Association, American Medical Response, local fire service agencies and elected officials, will kick off Stroke Awareness Month by handing out stroke information to the morning CalTrain commuters at five train stations. Stroke information will also be handed out at many city and park sites at Streets Alive/Parks Alive events throughout San Mateo County on May 6.
Most people don’t recognize the warning signs of a stroke or realize how critical it is to seek immediate medical help. Far too many stroke victims do not arrive at a stroke center in time to receive treatment that could dramatically reduce their risk of death or long-term disability. Stroke should always be treated as a medical emergency, which is why it’s critical to not stall, and make the 911 call.
San Mateo County is fortunate to have an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) stroke system in place. This system begins when 911 is called, and paramedics transport patients with stroke symptoms to one of five stroke hospitals serving San Mateo County, including Seton Medical Center, Peninsula Hospital, Kaiser South San Francisco, Kaiser Redwood City, and Sequoia Hospital
“Since the formation of the San Mateo County Stroke System in 2007, the County has been educating residents on the signs and symptoms of stroke, and to call 911 when they suspect a stroke,” said Greg Gilbert, MD, San Mateo County EMS Medical Director. “Calling 911 immediately is critical because EMS responders are trained to take people with stroke symptoms directly to the right hospital, where they can receive time-sensitive treatment.”
911 should be called as soon as someone has any of the following symptoms:
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Sudden difficulty talking or understanding words
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
There are many risk factors for stroke that can be avoided, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Everyone can take steps to lower their risk for stroke by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Learn The Truth About Strokes at the San Mateo County Health System website.