By Justin Fairless
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It was elevated for recognition by former President George H.W. Bush for a significant reason. A stroke occurs in the United States every 40 seconds and remains the leading cause of long-term disability that Americans face. Consequently, almost everyone has a connection to someone who has had a stroke, whether it be a friend or family member. Strokes can be terrifying for those who suffer them as well as loved ones.
Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is stopped, either from a hemorrhage within the brain or because of a blood clot. The brain literally starts to die one cell at a time. The unfortunate result of a stroke is something we see in our daily lives. We have all seen those individuals in public, displaying the signs of a previous stroke: limited bodily function and mobility in their arms, legs and face.
None of us wants to suffer this fate. The good news is that strokes are largely preventable, treatable and beatable if treated quickly. But since around 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated, every minute counts and awareness and quick treatment are crucial to minimizing the debilitating, long-term effects.
This May, a coalition of medical professionals known as “Save Our Air Medical Resources” is working hard to ensure that access to air medical helicopter transport — a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating sudden events like stroke and heart attacks — is not jeopardized here in Texas or across the country. Twenty-two percent of our country’s hospitals have closed since 1990 and unfortunately this vital service is threatened by the same economic and political vice grip that has affected many aspects of health care.