Hippocrates, the father of medicine, first recognized stroke and called it “apoplexy”, which means, “struck down by violence”, in Greek. Unfortunately, humans have been, and continue to be, “struck down” by the same disease for thousands of years.
Despite the hard work of scientists and physicians around the world, mankind, has yet to find a cure for stroke. “We are closer to implementing a strategy for a cure and in some cases, reversing the symptoms of a stroke, to help one maintain his or her quality of life however,” says Director of Stroke at Florida Hospital East Orlando, Doctor Abraham P. Thomas, M.D.
With that said, what exactly is a stroke? “That’s a question that I have heard echoed in my practice far too many times by both the patients and the families,” says Thomas. “A simple way to think of a stroke is to think of it as a ‘brain attack.’” In other words, a stroke is similar in concept to a heart attack where the brain undergoes a sudden injury.
“The injurious process fundamentally comes down to two processes: lack of oxygenation of the brain cells, and swelling or compression of the brain, leading to further injury,” says Thomas. These processes lead to the myriad of symptoms experienced by a stroke patient following their incident.
It should be noted, however, the symptoms of a stroke can range in diversity when compared to a heart attack. Stroke symptoms may include: difficulty in understanding or producing speech; slurring of speech; sudden loss of vision or a part of the visual field; sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg; a terrible headache; sudden numbness or tingling of the arm or leg; sudden imbalance and more.
Several risk factors have been identified when dealing with stroke cases and include an age of 55-years-old or older; race; family history of stroke; hypertension; diabetes; high cholesterol; cardiac arrhythmia and a previous stroke. Interestingly, men are also more likely to experience a stroke when compared to women.
“Looking at the risk factors, it’s easy to see why strokes contribute to the healthcare crisis in America today,” says Thomas. “Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. as well as the number three cause of mortality with 795,000 new cases reported each year.”
The strategy to help attack, or treat, the devastation caused by stroke involves national guidelines for the treatment and prevention of primary and secondary strokes. As a part of that solution, Primary Stroke Centers are being created around the nation to help address and implement these strategies. A Primary Stroke Center is a hospital that has been certified and licensed as meeting all the quality standard of care requirements needed to provide the highest level of care for stroke patients.
“Florida Hospital East Orlando was honored this year with the designation of a Primary Stroke Center and will play an immense role in the care of the East Orlando community,” says Thomas. “And, beyond the designation, Florida Hospital East Orlando has also implemented a ‘Televideo Stroke Program’ to help achieve faster attention to stroke care via cutting-edge technology.”
According to him, the goal at Florida Hosptial East Orlando is not be “just another Primary Stroke Center”, but to be a “Premier Stroke Center” that will help save millions of lives.
In fact, at a Primary Stroke Center, stroke victims have access to medication known as a “clot buster” that may help reverse the symptoms of a stroke if they are able to be evaluated at the Emergency Room within three to four and a half hours after the onset of stroke.
“May is Stroke Awareness Month and the excitement at Florida Hospital East Orlando continues to build as we have programs setup to reach out to the community for stroke education through community lectures, radio talk shows, magazine articles and more,” says Thomas. “Prevention is the key to stroke care and we are on the forefront of the solution to addressing this healthcare crisis, one stroke at a time.”
Florida Hospital East Orlando
7727 Lake Underhill Rd.
Orlando, FL 32822
Article by Corey Gehrold