compiled by Kym Byrnes

Do your part to learn to recognize a stroke and act quickly.

Do you know the signs of a stroke? Do you know what to do if you believe someone is having a stroke?

Local health experts are pushing hard to educate the community to recognize signs of a stroke and to potentially get life-saving treatment before it’s too late.

Carroll Hospital’s Stroke Coordinator, Melissa Caylor, said Carroll Hospital has cared for 1,300 stroke patients over the past five years, and unfortunately 89 percent of these patients were not able to be treated, often because treatment came too late.

“There is a very small window of time that we can treat acute stroke patients, and the majority of patients and/or their families either don’t know they are having a stroke or choose to wait to seek treatment,” Caylor said.

Stroke is the No. 1 cause of severe long-term disabilities, and Caylor said the goal of the “Stroke Smart Carroll County” initiative is to get stroke patients to the hospital immediately so they can receive life-saving treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million brain cells die every minute during a stroke — treatment must begin within just a few hours after symptoms begin. The best outcomes after treatment occur for people who arrive at the appropriate hospital immediately after symptoms begin. Many people call their primary care physician for help first or lie down thinking their symptoms will go away. The key to minimizing brain damage from stroke is calling 911 immediately.

Maggie Kunz, health planner with the Carroll County Health Department, said multiple partners, including The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County, Carroll Hospital, Fire/EMS services, the county Health Department, and others are working with local governments and regional experts to widely disseminate the Stroke Smart program.

Last August, Westminster was declared a “Stroke Smart City” and Carroll County was declared a “Stroke Smart County” in October.

“Our committee hopes to educate everyone that lives and works in Carroll County how to ‘Spot-A-Stroke’ and ‘Stop-A-Stroke,’” Kunz said.

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