By: Cathy Wentz, www.thespectrum.com
CEDAR CITY - May has been designated as National Stroke Awareness Month since 1989, and Kanarraville resident Bob Arend, a former emergency medical technician, said he has been promoting stroke awareness for several years.
He said the event that motivated him to advocate for more awareness about strokes was the death of his mother as a result of a massive stroke 12 years ago.
Arend said he and his wife, Joyce, were studying to become EMTs during the time his mother suffered the stroke and died three days later. He said he and his wife began working for Iron County Ambulance in the Kanarraville area when they finished their training.
"In the course of our 10 years of being EMTs and running the ambulance out there, we ran across many, many strokes," he said.
Dr. Aarush Manchanda, a cardiologist at the Valley View Heart Clinic in Cedar City, said ischemic strokes are generally the result of a blood clot in an artery that feeds the brain. He compared ischemic strokes to heart attacks.
"A stroke is a brain attack," Manchanda said.
He said transient ischemic attacks, which are often known as mini-strokes, result in symptoms that generally disappear within an hour.
Arend said he has experienced several TIAs.
Manchanda said a hemorrhagic stroke is the result of a blood vessel in the brain bursting and causing bleeding in the brain.
Cedar City resident Clay Barth said he had a stroke in 2000, but he has since recovered from it. He said he was not able to get immediate care for the stroke because it happened during the night, and he woke up feeling complete numbness on his left side.
He said people experiencing any stroke symptoms should quickly seek medical help.
Manchanda said clot-busting medication is appropriate for ischemic strokes, although other treatment is necessary for hemorrhagic strokes, which may be the result of extremely high blood pressure or aneurysms in the brain. He said the best treatment for that type of stroke is to get the patient's blood pressure lowered as quickly as possible and watch for signs of pressure in the brain that may require surgical intervention.
Manchanda said treatment for TIAs include having the patient take a baby aspirin daily and reduce their cholesterol intake.
Arend said high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking can lead to strokes, noting that people should work on reducing those risk factors.
He said he has found that experiencing a stroke often has a stigma attached to it because the effects of a drooping face or difficulty walking are very obvious.
He also said there is a common misconception that strokes only happen to older people.
"There's no age limit to it," Arend said.
Manchanda said that when a young person suffers a stroke, it is generally the result of a congenital condition such as a hole in the heart.
How to recognize a stroke
According to the National Stroke Association, remembering the word "FAST" is useful for quickly identifying stroke symptoms.
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
- Time: If you observe any of these symptoms independently or together, call 911 immediately.
Bob and Joyce Arend are available to speak to civic or church groups about stroke awareness. They can be reached at 559-1649 or 586-0722.
Scott Monroe, the communications manager at Valley View Medical Center, also said he is able to provide information regarding strokes. He can be reached at 868-5828.