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News: Press Releases

UPMC Altoona Offers Blood Pressure Screenings and Stroke Prevention Tips

ALTOONA, Pa., May 9, 2017 May is National Stroke Month and UPMC Altoona Regional Stroke Center and the UPMC Altoona Healthy Living Club will offer two blood pressure screening opportunities and provide stroke prevention information on Friday, May 19 and May 26, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the Altoona Alliance Church.

“Blood pressure is an indicator of overall health and wellness,” says Janet Ashurst, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.N., unit director of the Stroke Program. “If the blood pressure consistently runs higher than normal, it has a domino effect on health and may lead to stroke, heart attack and heart failure. High blood pressure may cause vision problems and sexual dysfunction, and rarely causes any recognizable symptoms, so having a blood pressure screening helps detect this silent disease. A healthy blood pressure reads about 120/80.”

Per the American Stroke Association’s website, stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain and is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

The expression “Time is Brain” reflects how a stroke damages brain cells through an interruption of blood circulation through a blood vessel blockage, such as a blood clot or a vessel rupture. Damage occurs because the lack of blood supply starves the brain cells of oxygen and nutrients. When brain cells die, impairment and disability likely result.

“It is crucial for someone having a stroke to receive medical attention immediately,” Ashurst said. Here are some signs and symptoms of a person having a stroke, some or all the symptoms indicate an immediate need to dial 9-1-1.

Remember the acronym FAST:


Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?


Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?


Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the person able to correctly repeat the words?


Even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and note the time the first symptoms appeared.

Additional symptoms may include sudden:

Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg. Especially on one side of the body.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

About UPMC Community Benefits

Free educational programs are part of the more than $892 million a year that UPMC provides in total IRS-defined community benefits, including more care to the Pittsburgh region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. Over the past five years, UPMC has dedicated nearly $4 billion to community-focused programs and services, making a substantial impact for the well-being of the people who live, work, learn and raise their families in western Pennsylvania. The complete UPMC Community Benefits Report is available online at upmc.com.
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