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Learn About Stroke


Take a Few Minutes to Learn About Stroke

In a day and age when dangers seem to lurk around every corner, it’s tempting to resist thinking about health risks. However, by spending just a few minutes in May—American Stroke Month—learning about stroke, how you can reduce your likelihood of experiencing it and how to spot the warning signs, you may save your life or the life of another person.

“Many people consider stroke an ‘old man’s disease,’” said Peter Kim, MD, a Simi Valley Hospital neurologist and the medical advisor for the hospital’s stroke support group. “While there are particular risk factors that make some people more susceptible to stroke than others, the reality is that stroke can affect anyone. Furthermore, the earlier you begin to make healthy lifestyle choices, the more likely you’ll be to avoid stroke and other related issues—such as heart attack—later in life. So stroke really is something we all should think about.”

Stroke risk factors that cannot be controlled include age, family history, race and gender. In addition, people who have had a heart attack and those who have experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack, or “warning stroke”) are at higher risk, and people who have already had a stroke are more likely than others to experience a subsequent stroke.

However, there are also many controllable risks factors—and steps anyone can take to lower stroke risk:

  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control. (High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke.)

  • Don’t smoke.

  • If you have diabetes, carotid and/or peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation or other heart disease, or sickle cell disease, carefully follow your doctor’s recommendations for controlling your condition.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Do at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity.

It’s important, too, to know what to look for if you think you or someone around you is experiencing a stroke.

“Taking the time to learn the warning signs of stroke and how to respond is like putting a fire extinguisher in your home,” Dr. Kim said. “You hope you will never have to use it—but if you do, it can literally be a lifesaver.”

The American Stroke Association uses the acronym FAST to help people learn and remember what to look for and how to react if they think someone is experiencing a stroke:

  • F is for face drooping. Does one side of the person’s face droop, or does the person say his or her face feels numb? When you ask the person to smile, is the smile uneven?

  • A is for arm weakness. Does the person report that one arm is weak or numb? When you ask him or her to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?

  • S is for speech difficulty. Is the person’s speech slurred, or is he or she unable to speak or hard to understand? Can the person repeat a simple sentence back to you, such as “The sky is blue”?

  • T is for time to call 9-1-1. If someone shows any of the three symptoms above—even if the symptoms go away—call 9-1-1 immediately. If possible, be sure to note the time when the symptoms first appeared. That will help the medical team provide the most appropriate care to the person experiencing the stroke symptoms.

The American Stroke Association has developed a free FAST app that keeps information and resources regarding stroke right at your fingertips. The app is available in the App Store and Google Play, or visit to learn more.

Residents of Simi Valley, Moorpark and the surrounding communities who experience a stroke have the advantage of a hospital with specialized services for stroke treatment. Simi Valley Hospital is certified as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission, the nation’s top health care accrediting body.

Stroke certification confirms that Simi Valley Hospital has the personnel, procedures and facilities to provide outstanding care for stroke patients in a very timely manner. As part of the Ventura County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) stroke network, the county EMS transports local stroke patients directly to Simi Valley Hospital for timely care.