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Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth-highest cause of death in the United States every year. Yet, up to 80% of all strokes are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Kimon Bekelis, MD, Director of the Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island at Good Samaritan Hospital and Catholic Health Chair of Neurointerventional Services, shares the importance of taking rapid action if you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms. Recognizing the signs of stroke and getting medical care immediately is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and others from a stroke. It may even save your life.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or a loved one are experiencing stroke symptoms.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when one of the blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to your brain bursts or becomes blocked by a blood clot. If this occurs, it prevents parts of your brain from getting needed oxygen and causes brain damage, long-term disability or death.

There are two main types of strokes:

  • Ischemic stroke occurs when fatty deposits or blood clots block blood flow to your brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when one or more of the blood vessels in your brain ruptures.


Act F.A.S.T.

A stroke is an emergency requiring professional care immediately to achieve the best outcome. Nearly two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke. Early treatment leads to less brain damage, reduced disability rates and fewer deaths.

The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize the warning signs of a stroke.

F = Face drooping. Is one side of your face sagging? Is your smile uneven?

A = Arm weakness. Do you have numbness or weakness in one of your arms? Attempt to hold your arms outstretched at waist level. Is one of your arms drifting downwards?

S = Speech difficulty. Are you slurring your words? Are you unable to produce or understand speech and communicate how you normally do?

T = Time to call 9-1-1. If you or someone you're with shows any of these warning signs, immediate action is vital. The faster you get care, the better your chances of a positive outcome.

Other signs of stroke include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Weakness or numbness in your arm, face or leg that’s worse on one side of your body
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble walking


Preventing Stroke

These tips from the CDC can help you reduce your risk of stroke:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a balanced, low-sodium diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Participate in physical activities regularly.


Stroke Care Across Long Island

All Catholic Health hospitals have a team of stroke experts available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Comprehensive Stroke Center

The Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island at Good Samaritan Hospital (West Islip, NY) is the only Comprehensive Stroke Center on the south shore of Long Island. A Comprehensive Stroke Center provides more specialized care for patients with complex strokes.


Primary Stroke Center

A Primary Stroke Center stabilizes and provides emergency care for patients with an acute stroke. You can find care at:

St. Catherine of Siena Hospital (Smithtown, NY)

St. Charles Hospital (Port Jefferson, NY)

Mercy Hospital (Rockville Centre, NY)

St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® (Roslyn, NY)

St. Joseph Hospital (Bethpage, NY)


Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you. 

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