Dr. Sunil Cherry is the Medical Director of the CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Stroke Center, the area’s first Joint Commission Certified Primary Care Stroke Center. He is a board certified neurologist specializing in neurology and clinical neurophysiology (EEG, EMG and sleep medicine). He is a graduate of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. Dr. Cherry returned home in 2011 and enjoys working with his parents, both of whom are prominent Lufkin physicians. Dr. Cherry graduated from Lufkin High School and grew up with a particular interest in the complexity of the brain and nervous system.
“I work with stroke patients in the acute setting, or while they are in the hospital, to help facilitate their rehabilitation after a stroke. I also provide post-stroke care making sure their needs are met with any new deficits that are associated with stroke and ensuring that we do our best to prevent strokes from reoccurring,” Dr. Cherry said, adding that a multifaceted team approach that includes cardiologists, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, internists and rehabilitation specialists is often essential in providing the highest level of care.
A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures, resulting in death of brain tissue due to the loss of blood supply. As the brain tissue dies a person can lose two million neurons a minute. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. The statistics are even worse in Texas, which is part of the Stroke Belt with a stroke mortality rate up to four times the national average.
There are various reasons that stroke occurs, but according to the National Stroke Association,
80 percent of strokes are preventable. Dr. Cherry works with his patients to help prevent additional strokes from occurring, but says there are modifiable risk factors that everyone should pay attention to, such as:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
Dr. Cherry says, “time is brain,” and for that reason, if you suspect a stroke is occurring, you should seek immediate treatment from a hospital with a Primary Stroke Center certification, like CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial. When it comes to stroke, the hospital is Joint Commission certified and designated as a Primary (Level II) Stroke facility. Its Stroke program is routinely recognized by both the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association as a Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus hospital and a Target Plus Elite Honor Roll hospital and has been ranked in the Top 100 hospitals in the nation for Neurological Care by CareChex, a division of Quantros, Inc.®, an independent quality ratings group.
Ask the Expert: Sunil Cherry, M.D.
What do men need to know about stroke?
A: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in men, killing almost the same number of men
each year as prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability among American men. Men have stroke at younger ages than women. African American men are at a greater risk of stroke than any other group of men (CDC).
Q: Do symptoms present differently in men?
A: As the human brain is virtually identical from male to female, the majority of stroke symptoms experienced by men and women are the same. Beyond the “F.A.S.T.” symptoms – an acronym of how to recognize stroke, which includes facial drooping, arms drifting, slurred speech, and time to call 911 – other stroke symptoms include sudden-onset focal numbness and weakness, vision change, and difficulty with ambulation, to name only a few.
Q: What preventative screenings are there to check for the likelihood of experiencing a stroke?
A: Patients should schedule regular check-ups with their primary care provider. During their checkup, patients should ask questions and discuss their personal risk factors for stroke with their provider. Managing blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol will help lower the risk of stroke. High blood
pressure is a main factor for stroke, yet nearly 1 in 3 men are unaware they have it (CDC). In addition, screening for certain cardiac conditions, such as irregular heart rhythms, known as atrial fibrillation, is important in primary stroke prevention.
Q: What can men do to reduce their likelihood of experiencing a stroke?
A: Stroke is preventable and treatable. Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented by not smoking, making healthy diet choices, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and treating modifiable risk factors as noted above (AHA).
• An adult brain weighs three (3) pounds.
• The brain goes to sleep when we do.
• You use only 10% of your brain.
• Damage to one side of the brain will affect the opposite side of the body.
• As the brain ages, creativity and wisdom automatically decline.
• Short term memory lapse is an early sign of brain decline.
• The brain has three main parts.