Rapides Regional Medical Center needs your help.

For the 2015 football season, RRMC wants to “Tackle Stroke.”

“As a certified stroke center, one of our goals is to raise awareness about the warning signs of stroke and the risk factors,” said Cynthia Cimini, RN, BSN, the Coordinator of Cardiovascular Quality Initiatives at Rapides Regional Medical Center.

Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and are the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.

But, according to the Stroke Awareness Foundation, 80 percent of strokes are preventable.

Risk factors for strokes include hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and physical inactivity and obesity. Although the risk of a stroke increases with age, strokes can and do occur at any age.

Knowing the signs of a stroke and seeking immediate medical attention is vital for recovery. That is why RRMC will be at the sites of the three major local high school football jamborees on Friday, Aug. 28 at Alexandria Senior High, Pineville High and Avoyelles High School.

Volunteers will be handing out old-fashioned, hand-held fans listing the warning signs of stroke. Not only will the fans help spectators cope with the heat and humidity of an August Friday night in Louisiana, but the warning signs printed on the fans could save someone’s life and quality of life.

To best remember the signs of a stroke, think “F.A.S.T.”

Face. Is one side of the face drooping?
Arms. Does either arm drift down when raised?
Speech. Is speech slurred or confusing?
Time. If you observe any of these signs, dial 9-1-1.

The Emergency Department of Rapides Regional Medical Center has been certified an Advanced Primary Stroke Center since 2009 by The Joint Commission. Rapides Regional is also the only local hospital that provides Neurosurgery Coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Time is important when someone is having a stroke. The faster they receive medical care and the blood-clot busting drug, tPA, the better the outcome. Just a few minutes may make the difference in saving a person’s ability to walk or eat.

For more information on strokes and the certified stroke center at Rapides Regional Medical Center, visit rapidesregional.com.