You don’t need superpowers to be a hero when it comes to stroke, you just need to pay attention to the risk factors and know the warning signs. That’s the theme of this year’s American Stroke Association public awareness campaign regarding stroke.
Local stroke survivors, Kristal Morris and Salvatore DiMauro, MD, are featured in public service advertising appearing on Metro North and Long Island Railroad platforms and in select shopping mall kiosks, during the month of May. The message is clear – you can become a stroke hero by adopting simple behaviors to prevent stroke and learning the acronym – F.A.S.T. — to spot one. The public service campaign is made possible through the support of our national Together To End Stroke sponsor, Medtronic.
Each year, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke, that’s one every 40 seconds. And, African Americans have twice the risk of a first-time stroke as Caucasians and are twice as likely to die from it. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 Americans can’t name at least one stroke warning sign, and only 8 percent of Americans can identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym for stroke.
Following a car accident, Kristal experienced episodes of vertigo and some weakness. Before she could make a scheduled appointment with her neurologist, she had a stroke while driving to the grocery store. She recognized a warning sign – numbness in her right arm – and pulled over to the side of the road and tried to call 9-1-1. However, she was unable to speak to the operator, and fell when she attempted to get out of her car. Luckily a passerby saw Kristal and called the paramedics who rushed her to a hospital. Following surgery to remove a clot from her blood vessels that caused the stroke, Kristal attended, speech occupational and physical therapy. She continues to attend out-patient therapy and will now pursue a career in nursing.
Dr. DiMauro, an internationally renowned neurologist suffered his massive stroke at home. He was rushed to the hospital where the clot that was blocking blood flow to Dr. DiMauro’s brain was removed through an endovascular stent retrieval procedure. Almost immediately following the procedure, Dr. DiMauro was able to move his hand again. Today, Dr. DiMauro requires the assistance of two canes to help him walk and sometimes experiences difficulty writing; however he has retained his fluency in three languages: Italian, English and Spanish.
While about 80 percent of strokes are preventable, the second best way to beat a stroke is to identify one immediately when it occurs and call 9-1-1. Time lost is brain lost. In the cases of Kristal and Dr. DiMauro, early intervention saved their lives.
For more information about stroke and to learn how to be a Stroke Hero for American Stroke Month, visit www.StrokeAssociation.org.