Each year, almost 800,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke, and more than 140,000 of those strokes are fatal. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death of Americans—and the third leading cause of death among women—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and Main Line Health reminds all members of the community to be proactive in reducing their risk of stroke.
“It’s important to know and understand the risk factors associated with stroke so that you can make certain lifestyle modifications to reduce that risk, if possible,” says Michelle J. Smith, MD, system division chief of neurosurgery, Main Line Health.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and diabetes are leading causes of stroke, and about one-third of U.S. adults has at least one of these conditions or habits, according to the CDC.
“It’s critical to seek medical attention if you notice the symptoms of a stroke. The faster stroke treatment can be given, the better chance a patient has for recovery. Remember: time is brain,” says Dr. Smith. “There’s an easy trick to help you remember the symptoms of stroke: F.A.S.T., which stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911. It’s a very simple way to remember the symptoms of a stroke and the importance of acting quickly.”
Sheetal Chandhok, MD, a cardiology arrhythmia specialist and Main Line Health’s principal investigator for several clinical studies, notes that another risk factor of stroke is atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. “At Main Line Health we offer advanced technology and the latest clinical trials for patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation,” says Dr. Chandhok “Currently we offer clinical trials that correct irregular heart rhythms which cause stroke, as well as trials which can directly reduce stroke risk in lieu of anticoagulation. Patients with arrhythmia or who are at risk for stroke should talk with their physicians to determine their eligibility to participate in a clinical trial.”
Main Line Health’s Lankenau Institute for Medical Research conducts cardiovascular clinical research to help identify future potential treatment options for those at high risk for stroke. To see a full list of Main Line Health’s current cardiovascular clinical trials, visit mainlinehealth.org/cardiactrials. Patients interested in participating in clinical trials at a Main Line Health hospital should speak with their physicians.
“By participating in a clinical research trial, eligible patients gain access to potential new treatments or therapeutic practices before they are available to the general public. They also advance medical knowledge and help others who may develop or have similar diseases or conditions,” adds Dr. Chandhok.
Main Line Health’s Bryn Mawr Hospital has received Advanced Thrombectomy-Capable Accreditation from The Joint Commission and is one of only three sites in the state of Pennsylvania with this designation. Thrombectomy is a minimally invasive endovascular procedure during which physicians thread a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin up to a blocked blood vessel in the patient’s brain to clear it and help restore blood flow.
For more information about Stroke Care at Main Line Health, including stroke rehabilitation services at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, visit mainlinehealth.org/stroke. In celebration of National Stroke Awareness Month, Main Line Health Community Health and Equity is providing employee and community stroke screenings. For more information, visit mainlinehealth.org/events.