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Press Release

Knowing the Signs of Stroke Can Save Lives

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Contra Costa is urging residents to learn the symptoms of stroke which kills or disables someone in the United States every 45 seconds.

As part of National Stroke Awareness Month in May, Contra Costa Health Services' Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division is urging the community to learn the symptoms of stroke, to call 9-1-1 and to act in time when dealing with stroke.

EMS Prehospital Care Coordinator Pam Dodson said stroke continues to be the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. Yet research shows the public remains unaware of its warning signs and the need for immediate medical attention, even if the symptoms subside.

"We see a good number of people who are still coming into hospitals with symptoms of stroke in private vehicles," Dodson said. "When a stroke starts, you have just three hours in which to act to receive the most successful stroke treatment."

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Dodson said when that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.

"A stroke is a serious emergency. Early identification of stroke symptoms and early intervention is critical and can make the difference between life and death," said Dodson

The symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, difficulty walking, talking and seeing, as well as a sudden and severe headache.

"The person having these symptoms may not be the best judge as to what to do." said Dodson. "Anyone recognizing these signs should call 9-1-1 immediately and should say 'I think this is a stroke,' when talking to a 911 dispatcher, paramedic, triage nurse or emergency physician."

More information about stroke can be found online at

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Press Contact
  • Pam Dodson
  • 925-313-9547