Healthy Heart News sLCH CArdiovascular institute | MAY 2018

St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute is committed to you and our community. We pride ourselves on being an engaged partner with the many constituencies that we serve. As part of our commitment to meeting your heart health needs, we have developed this quarterly newsletter filled with information that can improve the quality of, and in some cases, help save your life. If there are topics that you would like to see covered in future editions, please e-mail Beverly Keefer, Director of Cardiovascular Services, Cardiac Cath and Interventional Radiology at bkeefer@slchospital.org.


National Stroke Awareness Month is an annual event held within the United States every May. The aim of National Stroke Awareness Month is to make Americans aware that they may be able to ‘Save A Life’ of a person experiencing a stroke. A stroke is an emergency– it can happen to anyone, at any time, and at any age. What happens when someone experiences a stroke and what occurs on the way to and at the hospital, is the focus of this year’s National Stroke Awareness Month.

A stroke is an attack on the brain, it happens when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, causing death of that part of the brain, the effects of the stroke vary depending on which part of the brain is affected and how severe the stroke is. Strokes can also cause bleeding on the brain. The effects of stroke can be permanent although some people make a very good recovery, and a sufferer is vulnerable to further strokes.

According to the National Stroke Association, a person experiencing a stroke can be treated if people acted FAST

FAST being an acronym for things to check in a suspected stroke victim:

F - Face / Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?

A - Arm / After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?

S - Speech /After repeating a simple phrase, does the persons speech sound slurred or strange?

T - Time / If any or all the above are observed call for 9-1-1 and ask for medical assistance.

Here are a few key statistics about stroke. The source for the statistics is the Association’s 2018 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, which is compiled annually by the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other government sources. The years cited are the most recent available.


  • Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke accounts for 1 of every 19 deaths in the US.
  • Stroke kills someone in the US about every 3.5 minutes.
  • When considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, stroke ranks No. 5 among all cause of death in the US, killing nearly 133,000 people a year.
  • From 2005 to 2015, the age-adjusted stroke death rate decreased 21.7 percent, and the actual number of stroke deaths declined 2.3 percent.
  • Each year, about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the US.
  • In 2015, stroke deaths accounted for 11.8% of total deaths worldwide, making stroke the second leading global cause of death behind heart disease.

It is important to act FAST. Identifying the signs of stroke and calling 911 can make a difference.

Public awareness of signs and symptoms of stroke remains poor

  • Calling 911 within 1 hour of symptom onset is done in fewer than 50% of stroke cases.
  • Fewer than 50% of callers knew they were calling about a stroke-related symptom.
  • Despite proven benefits of 911 and emergency medical services (EMS) only 53% of stroke patients used EMS.

EMS Professionals – Thank you during EMS week in May

Emergency medical workers continuously show dedication to their communities through tireless service, as the first people to answer calls in times of distress. It’s important to honor them for their commitment and say thanks for caring about public safety. Our EMS partners have been instrumental in the development of early cardiac team notification and intervention, refinement of early stroke identification and transporting patients for care. EMS professionals have a true calling to assist others who are sick or injured. EMS at all levels provide hope to people in their most critical times of need. This calling comes through in their spirit of dedication, professionalism and commitment 24 hours a day.


Are you getting the right treatment to prevent a Stroke?

The stroke risk in patients with AFib is up to seven times that of the general public and the incidence of strokes attributable to AFib increases with age. Strokes related to AFib are often major strokes that have worse outcomes than non-AFib strokes, with a greater likelihood of significant disability. Atrial Fibrillation can be a debilitating condition. Fortunately, it can be successfully managed.

Atrial Fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat where the upper chambers of heart, the cardiac atria, beat in a chaotic, disorganized fashion. This is frequently experienced as a sustained fluttering in the chest, although some people have no symptoms and are only detected by a doctor’s exam, or by an EKG. AFib keeps the atria and ventricles from working together normally. As a result, not all the blood gets pumped from the atria into the ventricles, and the efficiency of the heart is reduced.

Disorganized atrial contraction caused by AFib can lead to clot formation within the atria. If part of the clot breaks free, it can travel to the brain, depriving it of proper blood flow. Without a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells can die within minutes. This can result in sudden weakness, loss of speech, disability, or even death.

So during this month of May – please take time to care for yourself. It’s important to stay up-to-date with your health issues. One aspect of stroke prevention is based on focusing on pursuing the best heart health care throughout your life!

want to hear more?

Listen to the SLCH Doc Talk podcast with Dr. Jack Tighe. A preview of his discussion of Coronary Calcium Scoring is available below.

For more information, contact the St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital Cardiovascular Institute at (845) 561-4400 (www.stlukescornwallhospital.org) or the Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Heart Association (http://hudsonvalleyny.heart.org).

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