Learn symptoms of ‘brain attacks’: Stroke symptoms topic of free presentation

HARLINGEN – Would you know what to do if you or a loved one suddenly developed symptoms of a stroke (“brain attack)?

The importance of recognizing signs of a stroke – and to not delay in calling 911 – will be discussed by Ginger Cunningham, RN, Trauma and Stroke Programs Coordinator at Harlingen Medical Center, during a free Doc Talk Lecture presentation for the community.

The event will be held on Wednesday, May 4, at 6 p.m. in Harlingen Medical Center’s Medical Office Building (MOB) Conference Room, located at 5505 S. Expressway 77 in Harlingen (in the building closest to the Expressway, outside the hospital, on the first floor, behind the elevators).

“Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States,” Cunningham said. “The number of people who have a stroke is rising each year. Every four minutes, someone dies from a stroke. In addition, strokes are increasing in younger age groups … so everyone should become informed, and know how to react if you experience symptoms.”

Cunningham said symptoms of stroke may include the following:

* Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg — especially on one side of the body.

* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding

* Sudden trouble seeing

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

* Sudden severe headache, with no known cause

Cunningham stressed that “time is of the essence” and that it’s critical to seek immediate treatment for symptoms of “brain attacks.”

“It is so important that people waste no time when they suffer a stroke,” she added. “It’s important to call 9-1-1 immediately. Receiving medical attention immediately is crucial to saving the patient’s life — and crucial to preventing a disability for those who survive.”

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel is either blocked (clot) or ruptured. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so brain cells die.

Risk factors which may make a person more susceptible to a stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or obese, and high levels of “bad” cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.

“There are so many people living with these risk factors today and they do not even know it,” Cunningham said. “It’s important for people to take care of themselves and become engaged with their health and well-being. These are also the same conditions that may cause someone to develop heart disease.”

In addition to knowing the risk factors and what to do in case of stroke, Cunningham will also discuss the following topics during her presentation:

* The different types of strokes

* “Mini-strokes” (called “Transient Ischemic Attacks” or TIA)

* Atrial fibrillation and stroke

* High blood pressure and stroke

* Treatment for stroke

Cunningham’s presentation is being held as part of “National Stroke Awareness Month” activities at Harlingen Medical Center.

For more information on Cunningham’s Doc Talk Lecture presentation on May 4, or to RSVP, please call the Business Development and Marketing Department at (956) 365-1848.