Shore Health Systems
Shore Health System

Knowledge is the Best Medicine to Prevent and Recover from Stroke
May 7th, 2009

Terry Detrich, MD, FAAN


May is Stroke Awareness Month
Knowledge is the Best Medicine to Prevent and Recover from Stroke

By Terry Detrich, MD, FAAN, medical director of the Shore Health System Primary Stroke Center

Even though up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, estimates are that nearly 795,000 Americans will have a stroke in 2009. There are many ways to stop stroke by taking steps to manage your risk factors. The National Stroke Association suggests three approaches to stroke awareness: prevention, symptom recognition and recovery.

Risk factor management is one of the most important aspects of stroke prevention. The most common " and treatable " risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (a type of heart disease), diabetes, excess weight, smoking, excessive alcohol use and sleep apnea.

Having a transient ischemic attack " commonly referred to as a TIA or mini-stroke " puts you at risk for having another, more damaging stroke. TIA symptoms are similar to those of a stroke but last for a short period of time - 20 minutes to two hours - and leave without a trace.

Talk to your doctor to establish a plan for your individual risk factor management.

Symptom Recognition
Time is critical in stroke. It is vital to understand stroke symptoms so that you can seek immediate medical treatment that can save lives and reduce disabilities. The acronym F.A.S.T. reminds us a quick response to specific symptoms is the most effective way to prevent long term damage from a stroke.

F.A.S.T. stands for
Face - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arm - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
Time - If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Every minute that brain cells are deprived of oxygen during stroke increases the likelihood of brain damage. Treatment can be more effective the earlier it is given. The Memorial Hospital at Easton is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), which means that Shore Health System has established a protocol that a specialized clinical team follows when caring for patients who exhibit the signs of stroke.

Stroke recovery can last a lifetime. People can be hopeful about the future when they and their loves ones understand what issues may arise following a stroke. I encourage patients and their family members to learn about treatment options, to practice exercises that increase mobility and to find other ways to live a high quality of life no matter what disabilities or deficits may have developed as a result of the stroke.

Hope is a key element in the recovery process. Having hope and knowledge - about recovery options, recurrent stroke risk and how to become a self-advocate - are important steps to consider no matter where a person is in their recovery journey.

On Friday, May 15, Shore Health System is hosting a free seminar on stroke prevention from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at The Memorial Hospital at Easton in the Nick Rajacich Health Education Center, 210 S. Washington Street in Easton. Free blood pressure screenings will be available. Featured presenters are neurologist Terry Detrich, MD, and Christina Ball, RN, CNRN, from the Shore Health System Primary Stroke Center. A stroke survivors' celebration is planned for Wednesday, May 27 at 2:00 p.m. at Memorial Hospital in the Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation. For more information about these events and stroke prevention, contact Christina Ball at 410-822-1000, ext. 5068 or email Also visit

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