Do you know the warning signs of a stroke?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Strokes kill an estimated 140,000 Americans each year, accounting for one of every 20 deaths. Worldwide, strokes claim the lives of more than six million people annually.
Anyone can suffer a stroke. While there are warning signs to look for, they’re not always present at the time of a stroke. In general, it’s important to remember the acronym F.A.S.T. if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
F.A.S.T. stands for:
F: Face drooping
A: Arm drooping to one side
S: Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or being unable to speak
T: Time to call 911 if you notice any of the above
With stroke care, time is everything. The amount of time between the first sign of a stroke and receiving medical care is critical in preventing brain damage and other complications associated with a stroke. Remember, time is brain!
Knowing the warning signs is extremely important, but it is also necessary to know the best place to receive appropriate care.
“People should be aware of where the nearest stroke center is,” says Dr. Demetrius Lopes, co-director of the Stroke Program and medical director of the Cerebrovascular & Neuroendovascular Program at the Advocate Brain & Spine Institute located on the Lutheran General Hospital campus in Park Ridge, Ill.
“Hospitals in the Advocate Stroke Network offer the closest and most comprehensive stroke care to most communities in the Midwest,” Dr. Lopes says. “Identifying the closest Advocate Hospital to you is important and could save precious brain cells in case of a stroke.”
Within the Advocate Aurora Health network, Lutheran General Hospital, Christ Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital, Condell Medical Center, Illinois Masonic Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center in Wisconsin are all designated stroke centers. Dr. Lopes is an integral part of Advocate’s heli-stroke program, which enables stroke patients to be transferred via helicopter to a higher level of care, with physicians at other Advocate sites equipped to treat stroke patients.
In the near future, Dr. Lopes hopes to tap into new innovations that can signal the possibility of a stroke before it happens. Dr. Lopes hopes that this technology will help detect the deadliest type of stroke, known as hemorrhagic stroke, caused by brain aneurysm, before it ruptures.
“Thirty percent of aneurysms are fatal. It’s important to see ahead of time if a patient is at risk for one,” says Dr. Lopes. “We are looking at new technology that can help screen patients in the field, such as new wearable devices like helmets that can help tell EMS if the patient needs surgery so they know where to take them.”
About the Author
Colette A. Harris, health enews contributor, is the public affairs and marketing coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Il. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and has nearly a decade of experience writing about health and wellness, which are her passions. When she’s not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, cooking, reading, or traveling.