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May 1, 2013

Community Education Defines Risk Factors and Signs of Stroke 

NEW YORK (April 30, 2013) – In recognition of Stroke Awareness Month in May, Montefiore Medical Center’s Stern Stroke Center is increasing its efforts to save lives by educating people about the risks and warning signs of stroke, which kills more than 130,000 Americans each year. Throughout the month, Montefiore’s stroke experts will participate in screenings and educational activities in support of the American Stroke Association’s (ASA) “Strike Out Stroke” campaign.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood vessels to the brain or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, which is called an aneurysm. More than 800,000 Americans suffer strokes each year. A stroke can result in paralysis, difficulty speaking or even death if not treated quickly, usually within three hours.

“Stroke is the fourth largest cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States, and most people who are at risk for stroke aren’t even aware of it,” said Daniel Labovitz, M.D., director, Stern Stroke Center, Montefiore Medical Center. “Educating the public about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke will save many lives and prevent many more from being permanently changed by disability. Increased awareness is a passion of every member of the Montefiore team and we hope our efforts during Stroke Awareness Month will impact our patients and their families.”

Conditions that increase the risk of stroke include hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Having a family history of stroke increases the risk, and some ethnic groups also have a higher risk, including African Americans and Hispanics. Other risk factors include tobacco and alcohol use, and physical inactivity.

Knowing risk factors and recognizing the signs of stroke are key. The ASA promotes the F.A.S.T. system to help witnesses recognize the signs of a stroke and act quickly. F.A.S.T. stands for:

                Face - does one side of the face droop?

            Arms - does an arm drift downward listlessly when the person tries to raise it?

            Speech - is the person’s speech slurred or strange?

            Time - if you recognize any of these signs, it’s important to call 911 immediately.

To help spread the word, the Montefiore stroke team is participating in a number of screenings and educational activities, including a class to teach elementary school children to recognize the signs of stroke using F.A.S.T., a Twitter Chat and daily tweets about stroke. Community events scheduled to date are:

            May 4     Stroke Education

                           10 AM to 3 PM

                           St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Health Fair, 777 E. 222nd St., Bronx, NY


            May 17   Hypertension Screening and Stroke Education

                           Bronx Week Health Fair

                           1 PM to 4 PM

                           Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY


            May 20   Twitter Chat: Stroke Risks and Warning Signs

                           1 – 2 PM

                           Follow us at @MontefioreNYC

“Montefiore’s patient population faces a greater-than-average risk for stroke due to high rates of hypertension, diabetes and obesity in the Bronx,” said Steven M. Safyer, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Montefiore Medical Center. “As an academic medical center committed to improving the health of the community we serve, Stroke Month provides a great opportunity to increase awareness through education and screenings. We want to start a conversation about health that extends beyond our walls, to kitchen tables and places of worship.”

The Stern Stroke Center at Montefiore Medical Center, founded in 1988, is named in honor of the late Fred and Lotte Stern. As a primary stroke center designated by the New York State Department of Health, Montefiore has the ability to identify and treat victims of stroke rapidly and efficiently, with immediate access to specialty neurological care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Center treats more than 1,000 patients annually, making it the second busiest stroke center in the state.