Recipient of the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, The Stroke Clinic is one of only a handful of such certified centers in Washington State. In 2011, Valley Medical Center's Stroke program was awarded the Get With The Guidelines Silver Plus Performance Achievement Award by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.
A cerebral stroke occurs when there is a vascular interruption to part of the brain, typically resulting in damage to brain tissue. Thus, a stroke is considered a medical emergency, in which expedient intervention has been shown to improve outcome. Depending on the type of stroke, and the region of the brain affected, the functional implications of a cerebral stroke can vary greatly ranging from a transient loss of speech or motor movement, to paralysis or even death. Therefore, patients presenting a possible stroke at Valley Medical Center with be treated by the doctors and ancillary treatment team members to optimize the patient’s outcome.
Stroke ranks among the deadliest—and most complicated—of healthcare problems. Until recently physicians could treat only the devastating aftermath of stroke. But lead-edge stroke center centers such as VMC's may limit, in some cases even prevent, the consequences of stroke.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, depriving it of oxygen. Deprivation lasting more than a few moments can cause brain damage and result in permanent disability or death.
"It's critically important to pinpoint the precise location of a stroke and the extent of its damage, and to do so with great speed," says Dr. Peter Balousek, a neurologist of VMC's Stroke Clinic. The center's super-team of experts includes neurologists, hospitalists, vascular surgeons, anticoagulation specialists, pharmacists, speech therapists, and occupational health specialists.
Stroke Clinic specialists provide immediate and top-notch intervention in the event of a stroke, but Dr. Balousek acknowledges they can't do a thing if primary care physicians or ER providers don't recognize symptoms until it's too late. Because some symptoms of imminent stroke are subtle, even emergency physicians may miss crucial signs.
VMC Emergency Services physician Karl Kaufmann sees stroke victims regularly in the ER and works closely with Balousek. "In an emergency setting, it's crucial that people know who to call and when. Just like during a heart attack, every single minute counts." For this reason, Balousek says one of the Stroke Clinic's main goals is to educate physicians and providers across the region.
Symptoms of a Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Source: American Academy of Neurology
If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately!
Spot a Stroke FAST: Face drooping; Arm weakness; Speech diffculty; Time to call 9-1-1
Learn More about Recognizing Stroke's Warning Signs
Watch this American Heart and American Stroke Association video demonstrating the distinctive body language of stroke.
When seconds count, can you spot a stroke? Take this quiz and find out!
Who is at Risk for Stroke?
According to the American Academy of Neurology, stroke is the third leading cause of death for adults in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. Nationwide each year, roughly 750,000 people suffer a stroke, and about 160,000 die as a result. While there is no stereotypical stroke victim, physicians have identified some facts related to stroke:
- Stroke risk increases shortly with age but can occur at any age
- More than one-quarter of those who have a stroke are under 65 years old
- Men have slightly more strokes than women
- More women die from strokes than from breast cancer
- African-Americans have two times the stroke risk of Caucasians
- Those with a family history of stroke and heart disease have an increased stroke risk
Reduce Your Risk
You can't control all of your risk factors for stroke. But maintaining cardiovascular fitness by observing the following prudent practices goes a long way toward bettering your odds.
- Control blood pressure
- Monitor blood cholesterol
- Stop smoking
- Treat heart disease
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Avoid excess sodium
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Treat diabetes
- Reduce stress
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