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Think F.A.S.T. Learn to Recognize a Stroke

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Although 80% are preventable, it is expected that nearly 795,000 people in the United States will have a stroke this year. Most strokes can be treated if they are recognized F.A.S.T. May is Stroke Awareness Month and Memorial Health System of East Texas is joining the National Stroke Association to raise public awareness about important stroke facts to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is a brain attack. It is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. Stroke can be caused by many risk factors that can be managed such as high blood pressure, weight control, alcohol consumption, smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and transient ischemic attack (TIA). Visit for more information and downloadable fact sheets.

Time is critical in a stroke. Knowing and understanding stroke symptoms can save lives and reduce disabilities. Act F.A.S.T. by recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms using the F.A.S.T. method:

  • F = Face  - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

  • A = Arm  - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one are drift downward?
  • S = Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T = Time - If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest stroke center or hospital.

Last year the T.L.L. Temple Foundation awarded $5.8 million to the Methodist Hospital in Houston to create a much needed advanced stroke program in East Texas, where the mortality rate from stroke is the highest in Texas and up to four times the national average.

The grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation will help improve stroke mortality statistics by creating The Methodist Hospital East Texas Stroke Initiative, a partnership between Methodist in Houston and Memorial Health System of East Texas in Lufkin. This is the largest grant from a private foundation in support of an American public health collaboration specific to stroke program development and outreach education.

“Stroke is an enormous public health threat, and we know the devastating impact it has on East Texans,” said Jay Shands of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, which is based in Lufkin. “This grant is about more than buying the right equipment and hiring stroke health care personnel. Through this partnership between Methodist and Memorial Health System of East Texas, we can be assured that our family and friends will have immediate access to top-notch stroke care, for generations to come.”

Over the course of the next three years, Methodist will help Memorial Health System of East Texas hire neurologists, nurse practitioners and other stroke-specific staff; train the staff on how to implement a Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center, and purchase necessary equipment and technology. With the new program, Memorial hopes to improve stroke treatment and recovery for patients in the East Texas region, as well as improve stroke-related education to the community, emergency medical service (EMS) personnel and health care providers.

“Our Cardiovascular and Stroke Center of East Texas project is underway, so our collaboration with The Methodist Hospital and T.L.L. Temple Foundation is a perfect fit. We are excited that by 2011, we should become a Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center and be able to enhance our level of care to residents in Angelina County and the surrounding areas,” said Bryant Krenek, President and CEO of Memorial Health System of East Texas.

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