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CRMC urges stroke awareness

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News Brainerd,MN 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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CRMC urges stroke awareness
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

CROSBY— Stroke can lead to death, but that doesn’t mean it has to. 

During May, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center has been working to promote awareness about the risk factors, symptoms and prevention of stroke. The CRMC stroke team hopes that increased public awareness will help reduce current stroke statistics.


Paula Heinonen, CRMC stroke team leader and Care manager,  said it’s important for people to know the symptoms associated with stroke and take serious, immediate action. “The tendency is for people to not want to cry wolf,” Heinonen said. “It’s your life we’re talking about. There’s no reason to take a chance.”

Heinonen said about half of stroke victims treated in the CRMC emergency room are evaluated and transferred to stroke specialists for higher care. 

When a patient arrives with stroke symptoms, Heinonen said CRMC works to get them directly into a CT scan. “Our goal is to provide treatment with in the window of opportunity,” Heinonen said. “Usually that’s within the first hour of symptoms.”

CRMC’s partnership with Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis  allows stroke patients treated in Crosby access to 24-hour care from stroke experts. The Allina Telehvealth network, launched in March provides stroke neurologists in Minneapolis with real-time assessments of stroke patients in CRMC’s emergency care. 

“This new technology gives our local emergency rRoom physicians immediate access to the specialists at Abbott Northwestern that can assist in making the critical decisions needed for a patient's timely stroke care,”  said Dr. Rob Westin, Emergency Department Medical director for CRMC.  

“These enhanced services will allow us to continue providing the quality care the people of our region have come to expect. ” 

CRMC treats approximately 30 patients each year for acute stroke. Stroke sufferers might undergo physical, occupational and speech therapy, sometimes for up to three hours a day, to help them return to life as usual. 

“Our goal is always to get them as rehabilitated as possible so they can return to their home and normal life,” Heinonen said. 

Knowing and being able to quickly recognize risk factors and symptoms is the best way to control affects of a stroke and ultimately, prevent stroke from occurring at all. 

Common misconceptions about who is affected by stroke can play a role in preventing a person from seeking treatment. “Not everyone is over the age of 65,” Heinonen said. “We’ve treated people as young as 30.” Statistics show that strokes are reported in every age group, although, age is a risk factor along with blood pressure, tobacco use, weight, level of activity, family health history, and cholesterol level. 

“You really have to be conscious of the risk facts,” Heinonen said. “Take your health seriously.”

SARAH NELSON may be reached at or 855-5879.