Get news alerts

The importance of stroke awareness in the minority population

Greeley, CO (Aug. 2, 2022) - When Omar Gutierrez, 41, noticed a terrible headache at work he didn’t think much of it. As the chief operating officer at Montfort Family Clinic in Evans, Colorado he is well versed in the world of health care. As a healthy young man, he tried to wait for the pain to subside. After a couple of hours, the headache became worse and he began to feel tingling – a bad sign. Omar called his team for help and was transported to the emergency department at North Colorado Medical Center (NCMC) in Greeley. 

“The team was alert and acted quickly,” he said. “I felt that I was in good hands. I felt comfortable with the work they were doing on me and was grateful for the support they were giving my wife.” As a Hispanic man working in a health care profession, Omar feels “there is a huge gap in stroke awareness” for this population.  

Projections from the American Heart Institute have shown that the biggest rise in strokes over the next decade will be among Hispanic men, who are expected to see a 29% increase in stroke rates. Medical experts believe this is due in part to higher rates of elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but researchers have also pointed to a lack of access to care and health insurance. Banner Health wants to help address this problem by providing educational resources on stroke awareness and prevention to the community. 

Last month NCMC received the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines Stroke quality achievement award for our commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines, which ultimately leads to more lives saved and reduced disability. 

“We are committed to improving patient care by adhering to the latest treatment guidelines,” said Banner stroke program manager Brenda Tousley. “Get With The Guidelines makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work daily, which studies show can help patients recover better. The end goal is to ensure more people can experience longer, healthier lives.” 

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times.

Preventing, diagnosing and quickly responding to a stroke is critical to survival and/or long-term effects – all of which begin with education. At Banner, reaching at-risk communities to provide education on stroke awareness is top of mind. Tousley says it’s important to understand early symptoms and teaches the BEFAST/RAPIDO mnemonics as a quick and easy way to remember symptoms for both English and Spanish speakers. Both mnemonics list symptoms as visual impairment, struggle to maintain balance, drooping face on one side, loss of strength on one side of the body and difficulty speaking or understanding. If these symptoms are present, it’s time to quickly call 911. 

North Colorado Medical Center is a fully accredited, private, nonprofit facility licensed in Greeley that is owned by Banner, a nonprofit health care system with 30 hospitals in six states. It serves as a regional medical center offering a comprehensive scope of community-based and specialty health care services for an area including southern Wyoming, western Nebraska, western Kansas and northeastern Colorado. It offers emergency care, cancer care, heart care, orthopedics, inpatient and outpatient surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, intensive care, lab and medical imaging and medical air transport and is certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. For more information on stroke care at Banner Health, visit us here.

Photo cutline for Omar Gutierrez 1:
Pictured from left to right are colleagues of Omar Gutierrez at Monfort Family Clinic - Diana Serna, clinic manager; Dr. Sean Filipovitz, site medical director; Omar Gutierrez, stroke patient; Kimberly Alvarez, medical assistant supervisor; Denise Rush, registered nurse. 

North Colorado Medical Center Banner Health

For further information contact us at: [email protected]

Download assets from the story