The first such Stroke Awareness and Recovery Discussion at the Jones Family Resource Center Monday night sought to provide a little more than just the facts.
Center Director Brack Llewellyn said the event, which had more than 35 persons in attendance, also had a goal of giving a little hope to stroke victims and caregivers.
Panelists for the discussion were Dr. Stacey Wolfe, assistant professor neurosurgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center; Rayetta Johnson, manager of stroke-neuro services, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center; Dr. Jason Edsall, emergency medicine, Northern Hospital; Becky Dumas, administrative director of Hugh Chatham Rehab services; and Emily Parks, R.N., stroke unit Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital; and stroke survivor and creator of the Surry County Stroke Support Group, Steven Lowe.
“Being a stroke victim takes a lot of humility and patience,” said Lowe as he opened the discussion. “From my perspective my last two years have been eaten up with a stroke. It is our hope we will give you something here tonight you can go home with and make a difference.”
The panelists appeared to agree the most striking thing about strokes is the majority of them are preventable. Lowe told the participants strokes happen to people of all ages and are catastrophic and have grown to be the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Later in the discussion, Parks outlined how important exercise is and inactivity increases the risk of stroke 20 percent.
“My wife has been deeply affected by stroke,” said Lowe. “My life changed 100 percent when I had my stoke. My wife and children’s lives changed 110 percent. Don’t gamble with your family. A stroke affects your family, friends and neighbors.”
Edsall told participants to use the definition of a heart attack to understand strokes, which are a “brain attack.” He explained the Face Arm Speech Time (FAST) reminder to look for changes in a victims facial expressions, arms and speech and urged participants to learn to look for symptoms because reaction time is critical.
“Time is important. Time is everything,” said Edsall. “Doing the things to prevent a stroke in the first place is your best bet. Don’t wait on seeing FAST. Prevent the stroke in the first place.”
Wolfe’s discussion centered on new techniques and factors which contribute to stokes. She said the number one thing to control and quit to lessen chances for strokes is smoking tobacco.
Parks, who served as a caregiver for her sister, Natasha Bourne, talked about the importance of reporting symptoms to family members and doctors and knowing personal risk factors. She said even as a nurse she wasn’t prepared to ask questions about strokes. She said every minute a stroke keeps oxygen from the brain takes years from a victim’s life.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 and on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.