May is Stroke Awareness Month

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CASPER, WY - May is Stroke Awareness Month and neurologists say it’s important to know how you can survive the disease.

"So stroke is a very common disease. Its affects 800,000 people every year. A new stroke happens every 40 seconds. More and more people are surviving strokes because were getting better at treating them. The rate of stroke and the rate at which people die from stroke is decreasing over time," said Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler

There are steps you can take to minimize your stroke risk.

"Being aware of your blood pressure and making sure it’s being treated appropriately. Managing your cholesterol numbers and working with your doctor to take medications if appropriate turn out to be really important and will have tremendous impact on lowering your risk of stroke," said Dr. Wheeler.

A stroke can cause serious long term damage to your brain.

"Ischemic strokes are caused by a blood clot or some other material like a ruptured plaque blocking the flow of blood through an artery in the brain,” said Dr. Wheeler. “This leads to loss of blood flow. The oxygen and the food for the brain cells goes away. Within just a few minutes, the brain cells start to die."

The disease can affect anybody at any age, whether you’re in good health or not.

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke in case you or a family member experiences one.

"We check their eyes. We check their grip strength in their hands. We have them give us a smile. Stick their tongue out at us. There are signs that were looking for that we can make a quick diagnosis if we need to and advise the incoming paramedics that this is probably a stroke situation," said Casper Fire/EMS official Jason Parks.

EMS officials will be able to help when time is of the essence.

“We are trained in advanced EMS skills, IV's, and some cardiac drugs,” said Parks. “So we may start a large bore IV in the AC in their arm, probably both sides. That’s protocol through the state of Wyoming and through the hospital."

The Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper will hold free stroke screenings on May 3rd from 8 AM to 1PM.

Doctor Wheeler will be on staff to answer and questions you may have.