Saving Lives Through Stroke Prevention

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Nurse practitioner Julio Olmeda understands the importance of treating and preventing strokes. Despite numerous medical advances in the last decade, stroke continues to be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Over 130,000 Americans die as a result of this disease each year and a majority of survivors suffer its long-term effects.

Although everyone is at risk of having a stroke, there are several things individuals can do to decrease their risk. Harvard Medical School recommends lowering blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, drinking in moderation, taking a baby aspirin daily, treating atrial fibrillation, controlling diabetes and refraining from smoking for those that have a family history or have an increased risk. Olmeda strongly believes that patients need to be educated on how to modify their lifestyle in order to prevent this disease.

As Neurology Nurse Practitioner in the Valley Institute of Neurological Excellence Outpatient Clinic, Julio Olmeda sees general neurology and endovascular stroke patients on a regular basis. He helps these individuals recover after a stroke so they are able to return to their regular lives while also educating them on how to prevent a second one. “Basically what I do is assess these patients when they come out of the hospital and make sure that they’re on a correct secondary stroke prevention, which are all the medications that are used to prevent other strokes,” explained Olmeda. “I also do a lot of education about the stroke risk factors that these patients have so that they can prevent future strokes.” Prevention is key for this population that has a very high likelihood of having a second attack. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 4 individuals suffering from a stroke have had a previous one.

Julio Olmeda’s strong belief in patient education is what attracted him to become a nurse practitioner. “The training nurse practitioners go through is highly focused on educating the patient,” said Julio Olmeda. “We take the time to sit down and explain to patients how they can prevent and manage their disease.” Nurse practitioners are a great addition to any medical team because they provide that added support for holistic patient care that other health care professionals are often not able to provide due to time constraints.

Olmeda is a crucial part of the team at the Valley Institute of Neurological Excellence. His extensive training and experience in neurology have made him an asset to the entire Rio Grande Valley. After completing his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Texas in Brownsville, Texas, Olmeda completed a Master of Science degree in the University of Texas Pan American, where he specialized as a Neuroscience Nurse Practitioner. He is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Olmeda’s long career trajectory include roles as an Education Specialist and Stroke Coordinator for the stroke unit at Valley Baptist Medical Center, Clinical Nurse Manager at the Neuro-Trauma ICU in the same hospital and as Family Nurse Practitioner at the Family Night Clinic in Harlingen, Texas.

Julio Olmeda’s strong commitment to preventing stroke by raising awareness and educating the public on prevention doesn’t stop there. He has taught courses around the community on neurocritical care, stroke awareness, vagal nerve stimulation and stroke screenings and has served as coordinator for a stroke support group in Harlingen, Texas. What keeps him going is knowing that all of his efforts are with the goal of saving his patients’ lives.