Since 2015, Rapides Regional Medical Center has been “tackling stroke” at some of the area’s high school football jamborees.

Thanks to this summer’s unprecedented heat wave, our hand-held fans with the signs and symptoms of stroke may be in more demand than ever, and that’s OK with us.

“One of our goals as a certified stroke center is to raise awareness about the warning signs of strokes, as well as the risk factors,” said Cynthia Cimini, RN, BSN, CCRN, SCRN, Stroke Program Coordinator at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “While no one likes the heat we have been experiencing, if these hand-held fans can provide some relief to those at the football jamborees and educate them at the same time, that is a win-win situation.”

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. 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.

That is why recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke is crucial, especially in a region with a population that is already at high risk for stroke. These risk factors 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.

“It is more important than ever to recognize the signs and symptoms of strokes and to seek medical treatment quickly,” said Cimini. “The quicker someone experiencing a stroke seeks and receives medical treatment, the better the outcome.”

Volunteers from Rapides Regional will distribute hand-held fans listing the warning signs of stroke. 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 so they may receive medical care and the blood-clot busting drug, tPA. 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.

A family splashes in a pool.