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Join Atrium Health Navicent in Recognizing National Stroke Month

Woman sitting and playing piano.

Atrium Health Navicent invites the community to observe National Stroke Month during May by learning to recognize and react to the signs of stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of stroke. Every year in the U.S., about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, and about 610,000 of these are first-time strokes.

Cynthia Sams is one of those first-time stroke victims. The 62-year-old from Macon said she was at work when she noticed that her handwriting was different. Her writing became worse and worse. She also noticed that her left leg was numb.

Not wanting to alarm her co-workers, she texted her boss and said, “I think I’m having a stroke.” From there, her boss sprang into action. Sams was put into a wheelchair and rushed to the emergency department at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center. Upon arrival, she was given a full examination and displaying symptoms of stroke, she was given an emergency IV injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). This drug restores blood flow by dissolving the blood clot causing the stroke.

Sams recalled that in a matter of seconds, she felt life again in her hands, legs and feet. She was kept in the ICU for three days for treatment and observation. Thanks to the quick response on the part of her boss and doctors at Atrium Health Navicent, Sams back to work within a week.

“Overall, it was an incredible experience. The doctor and staff were helpful and attentive,” Sams said.

Like Sams, other central Georgians are at an increased risk for stroke due to the prevalence of common risk factors that include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and tobacco use. Georgia is in the “Stroke Belt,” an area in the Southeastern United States where stroke deaths are approximately 30 percent higher than the rest of the country. In 2020, Georgia held the 8th highest stroke death rate in the country.

Atrium Health Navicent physicians remind the public to act FAST, seeking immediate medical attention, if they experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • B – Balance loss (Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?)

  • E – Eyesight changes (Is the person having sudden blurred or double vision in one or both eyes?)

  • F – Facial weakness (Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?)

  • A – Arm or leg weakness (Can the person raise both arms?)

  • S – Speech difficulty (Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?)

  • T – Time to act (Seek medical attention immediately!)

“It’s vitally important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke and to seek medical attention immediately. With quick intervention, recovery is possible,” said Dr. Naomi Kirkman-Bey, Atrium Health Navicent’s stroke program interim director. “Patients who arrive at the emergency room quickly often have less disability than those who delay seeking help.”

In addition to being recognized as a “high performing” stroke center by U.S. News & World Report, Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center is a 12-time recipient of the “Get with the Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus” Quality Achievement Award, an annual award presented by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association for excellence in stroke care. The health system earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

Atrium Health Navicent was named to AHA’s “Target: Stroke Honor Roll” in 2022. The Honor Roll recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

For the third consecutive year, Atrium Health Navicent has been named to AHA’s “Target Type 2 Diabetes” Honor Roll, which recognizes hospitals that are taking steps to help stroke patients control and manage Type 2 diabetes, a well-established risk factor for stroke.

For more information about stroke care, visit


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