Strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. They are the number five cause of death nationally (claiming more than 130,000 lives annually) and the leading cause of preventable disabilities. But what’s most astonishing is the fact that approximately 80% of strokes are preventable.

On July 11th, Vicki Wilkerson brought her husband Eddie (a Veteran) to the Charleston VA Medical Center for a routine dermatology appointment that took a surprising turn. “We walked in the building and Eddie sort of began to crumble…and then we tried to take a few steps around the corner and he collapsed.” Fortunately, the help Eddie needed was already on the scene.

VA Stroke Teams are assembled and trained to respond to the signs of a stroke quickly, because when it comes to stroke response, time is of the essence. “My husband has a diagnosis of Parkinson’s,” Vicki explained, “so I would not have recognized the signs…From that moment until this moment, the care, professionalism and compassion he has received here at the Charleston VA hospital has been amazing.”

VA’s efforts to combat strokes extend beyond response and treatment. Each year, for example, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston hosts a Stroke Awareness Fair. Registered dieticians host healthy-cooking demonstrations, doctors and nurses perform blood pressure checks, and EMS/Stroke Teams discuss their role as first responders for stroke victims. The event educates Veterans and their families how to recognize stroke symptoms and respond appropriately.

At VA, our teams are constantly working together not just to treat illness but also prevent it whenever possible. To learn more about stroke prevention, read this. If you’re ready to support the health and wellness of our Veterans, learn more about our teams and explore open opportunities to join us today.

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