Rapides Regional Medical Center wants you to “Be Fast” this football season.

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RRMC is back to tackling stroke at area high school football jamborees on Friday, Aug. 26. Employees of Rapides Regional Medical Center will be on hand during jamborees to teach mothers, fathers, friends, neighbors and students how to recognize the signs and symptoms of 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, CCRN, SCRN, Stroke Program Coordinator at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “During the pandemic, the number of people experiencing stroke symptoms who sought treatment at emergency rooms declined. We know for a fact the number of people having strokes did not decline. It is more important than ever to recognize the signs and symptoms of strokes and to seek medical treatment quickly.”

Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in both the United States and Louisiana, as well as being the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Louisiana ranks third for highest stroke death rate in the country. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first attacks, with 1 in 4 occurring in people who have had a previous stroke.

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 on site during several local high school football jamborees Friday, Aug. 26. Locations include: Pineville High School, Tioga High School, Buckeye, Holy Savior Menard and Avoyelles High School.

tackle stroke fan

Volunteers will distribute hand-held fans listing the warning signs of stroke. Not only will the fans help spectators cope with the heat and humidity of August 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, “B.E F.A.S.T.”

  • B – Balance. Do you have loss of balance, a headache or dizziness?
  • E – Eyes. Do you have blurred vision?
  • F – Face. Is one side of the face drooping?
  • A – Arms. Does either arm drift down when raised?
  • S – Speech. Is speech slurred or confusing?
  • T – 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.

Learn more about strokes and the certified stroke center at Rapides Regional Medical Center.