StrokeCheck participants learn warning signs - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

StrokeCheck participants learn warning signs

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Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011 3:00 am

More than 100 people were screened for stroke risk Friday in Banner Boswell Medical Center as part of a Valleywide program launched at the hospital a decade ago.

Dr. Scott Agran, a neuroradiologist and founder of the StrokeCheck screening program, wanted the participants to learn more about the risk factors of stroke as well as the warning signs.

“People aren’t as aware of stroke as they are of other diseases,” Agran said.

If people think they are having a stroke, or suspect that someone around them is, Agran suggested immediately calling 911.

Al Patterson of Sun City West said he was glad he and his wife, Kirsten Norstad, participated in the screenings. Even though both were healthy, they will take their results to their doctor.

“I always wanted to do it, but my wife here was the initiator,” Patterson said. “Having that opportunity to talk to a doctor was fantastic.”

The StrokeCheck program, sponsored by the American Stroke Association, includes a stroke-risk assessment profile, blood pressure and pulse check, carotid artery assessment and a personal physician consultation.

Agran said the program began at Boswell and now takes place in more than 20 hospitals throughout the state. More than 18,000 people have been screened over the last nine years.

Boswell screens an average of 120 people each year, said Penny Schmiege, Boswell’s director of cardiac services.

“This year we have 144 patients scheduled, which is a new record for us,” Schmiege said.

Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center had 112 people registered at its StrokeCheck event May 13.

The participants in both events completed a risk-assessment profile, watched a demonstration video, and went through testing for potential diabetes, high cholesterol, high or irregular blood pressure and carotid bruit, which indicates a fatty buildup in the artery that can be heard through a doctor's stethoscope.

Patterson said the event was organized and had a good flow.

“I think it was well worth the drive,” Patterson said. “People who see it and don’t take advantage of it should think twice.”

Treatments for stroke are now more available than 10 years ago, Agran said, adding that if a patient reaches a hospital early enough, doctors can use a clot-busting treatment that can, in some cases, lead to a full recovery.

“The whole idea of the program is teaching them the warning signs,” Agran said.

Some of those signs can be a loss of vision, weakness on one side or difficulty speaking, which are usually more specific to stroke, but more general symptoms include dizziness, confusion and headache, Agran said.

“It’s frequently described as a curtain coming down,” Agran said of the vision loss.

Agran said he appreciates it when he notices StrokeCheck participants return to the hospital if they recognize symptoms.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s really satisfying,” Agran said.

For more information on stroke, visit www.bannerhealth.com or www.strokeassociation.org.

Nora Avery-Page may be reached at 623-876-3691 or via email at naverypage@yourwestvalley.com.

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