May is Stroke Awareness Month: Neuroscience Expert Speaks to Rotary Club about Stroke Safety

Photo by Jason Cole

Tom Modin BSN RN, the Neuroscience Outreach Coordinator with Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute, spoke at the Excelsior Springs Rotary Club on Thursday, April 20, 2023, about the importance of stroke awareness and safety. With May being Stroke Awareness Month, Modin emphasized the significance of recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and calling 911 immediately using the acronym BE FAST: Balance (loss of balance), Eyes (unclear vision), Face (uneven smile), Arm (weak arms), Speech (abnormal speech), and Time (call 911 immediately).

During his presentation, Modin discussed the importance of calling 911 for stroke treatment. “If you call 911, we can actually get stroke treatment about 16 minutes faster than you bringing yourself to the hospital,” said Modin. He explained that when EMS calls in a stroke alert, a cascade of events happens, including clearing the CAT scan table and bypassing several stations in the emergency protocol. “This way, by the time you return from CT, the CT scan is read, your initial assessments are done, and your stroke assessments are complete,” he said. Usually, within a 20-minute window, everything that experts need to know is completed, as there are 36,000 brain cells that die per second. If patients wait just one hour, it’s 3.6 years of brain life.

Modin also discussed the risk factors for strokes, both those that can be managed and those that are out of one’s control. While stroke can occur at any age, one out of five people who have a stroke are under 55. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders have a higher risk of stroke than people of other races. More women have strokes than men, and more die from strokes than from breast cancer every year. Additionally, you are at greater risk if a family member has had a stroke.

Modin emphasized that knowing when someone is at risk for a stroke, what a stroke is, and the types of stroke can help you be prepared when it’s time to act. There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain, while hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes called a “mini-stroke” and is different from the major types of stroke because blood flow to the brain is blocked for only a short time, usually no more than 5 minutes.

The Excelsior Springs Rotary Club attendees found Modin’s presentation informative and helpful. They appreciated learning about the BE FAST acronym and the risk factors for stroke, as well as the importance of calling 911 immediately if someone suspects that they or someone else is having a stroke. The club members were grateful to Modin for sharing his expertise and raising awareness about stroke during Stroke Awareness Month.

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