Blaine’s Free Church Unitarian will be hosting a stroke screening clinic on Thursday, July 30 beginning at 9 a.m. The church is located at 1218 Harrison street.
This is important for people living a retirement lifestyle because the basis for practically every activity one might pursue aside from napping is based on good health, and one of the biggest hazards for older folks is stroke. You can ski for free at Mount Baker, for example, if you’re 75 or older, but to get there you need to avoid preventable health hazards like strokes.
Most people have received e-mails or have seen websites that tell of a simple “smile test” that could potentially save thousands of stroke sufferers from the disabling effects by allowing faster treatment. The screening clinic tries to go them one better by catching people at risk before a stroke happens.
Lifeline Screening is an Ohio-based company that has been providing preventive screening clinics for 16 years and will be conducting the tests. The four exams take an hour to 90 minutes to complete and cost $139 plus another $10 for an osteoporosis screening.
Other exams look for problems with plaque buildup in carotid arteries and for abdominal aortic aneurysms (swelling) with an ultrasound, measure heart rhythms with an electrocardiogram to check for atrial fibrillation and check for peripheral arterial disease.
According to Lifeline Screening, strokes are the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of permanent disability. Eighty percent of stroke victims had no warning prior to their strokes.
“Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions including hardening of the arteries in the legs, a strong predictor of heart disease,” said Joelle Reizes of Lifeline.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is also an insidious killer. “There’s no reason to live with that risk as there are a number of good medications available,” said Dr. Gary Jackson of White Rock, B.C.
Lifeline has 83 teams throughout the U.S. and in the United Kingdom. She said that it takes about an hour to have all the tests done, and clients get their results within 21 days, unless a serious problem is detected. “All tests are reviewed by board-certified physicians,” said Reizes.
As far as detecting a stroke as it’s happening, Dr. Jane Brice, professor of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, says the three-part smile test, officially the Cincinnati Pre-Hospital Stroke Scale (CPSS), can be used by practically anyone to diagnose most strokes.
Brice and her colleagues measured the accuracy of the test by first teaching it to 100 healthy volunteers. The volunteers then performed the test on stroke survivors. To diagnose a stroke, the volunteers performed the following three steps:
Volunteers told the patients, “Show me your teeth.” The “smile test” is used to check for one-sided facial weakness – a classic sign of stroke.
The patients were then told to close their eyes and raise their arms. Stroke patients usually cannot raise both arms to the same height, a sign of arm weakness.
Finally, the patients were asked to repeat a simple sentence to check for slurring of speech, which is another classic sign of stroke.
The volunteers were highly accurate, nearly flawless, at detecting speech problems and spotting one-sided arm weakness. They were less accurate at detecting facial weakness – with less than three out of four accuracy. But Brice pointed out that it’s difficult to detect differences in the smile of a stranger. “We are hoping that in most cases the bystander will actually be someone who knows the patient and so an unusual smile will be apparent,” she said. For more information, call 800/395-1801.