"Taking A Strike At Stroke” Is Aim of Stroke Screening

Knowing the Warning Signs are Key to Improving Survival Rates

GREENBRAE, CA — With stroke as the third leading cause of death and heading the list of causes of critical, long-term disability in the U.S., Marin General Hospital is “Taking a Strike at Stroke,” offering stroke screening to North Bay residents Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The screening will be held in the Marin General Hospital Conference Center and is by registration only, as space is limited. There is a $60 charge for the screening, which is regularly $139.

“If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering a stroke, every minute counts, says Dr. John Panagotacos, a neurologist and fellowship-trained stroke specialist at Marin General Hospital. “The key to achieving the best possible outcome in stroke is getting the patient to the hospital ASAP. Standard treatment of stroke with a clot-busting medication can occur up to four and a half hours after the onset, but research studies consistently show that patients that arrive to the hospital sooner have better outcomes.”

Rather than driving to the hospital by yourself or with family, Dr. Panagotacos recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if these warning signs, from the American Stroke Association, are observed:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Stroke prevention offers the best-case scenario in improving one’s chances for survival. The hospital’s stroke screening is designed to help individuals identify their own risk of stroke and imparts information about what to do in the face of symptoms. Up to 90 percent of strokes can be avoided by stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, losing weight, and increasing exercise.

According to Dr. Panagotacos, while all stroke centers can treat common ischemic strokes, using intravenous tPA, the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within the first hours of stroke symptom onset, Marin General Hospital offers comprehensive care that goes beyond the basics. The hospital’s team includes neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists who are available 24/7 to treat hemorrhagic strokes and other more complex cases. Other hospitals often must transfer these patients for lifesaving treatment.

“The hospital’s dedicated stroke team is available to our Emergency Department 24/7, and a neurologist is always on call,” notes Dr. Panagotacos. “Our program includes follow-up care; physical, speech, and occupational therapy; rehab; and medical management.”

After age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every decade, Dr. Panagotacos explains, with Baby Boomers now in the high-risk category. Eighty percent of strokes happen after age 50, and 50 percent occur after age 85.

Earlier this year, the Stroke Program at Marin General Hospital earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Gold Plus Award for 2011. The program also received advanced certification as Primary Stroke Center from The Joint Commission. The Marin General Hospital Stroke Program is recognized as the only primary stroke center in Marin that can treat all types of stroke.

In late 2010, the Marin General Hospital Spine & Brain Institute announced a collaboration between Mt. Tam Spine Center, Marin General Hospital and the UCSF Neurosurgery Program. The Institute is the only one in Marin to provide a single point of access for world-class, comprehensive multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary treatment and management of spine and brain disorders and disease.

To register for the stroke screening or get more information, call 1-888-99-MY-MGH (1-888-996-9644).