When seconds count, could you spot a stroke?
Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strokes kill an estimated 140,000 Americans each year, accounting for one of every 20 deaths.
Fortunately, Cheryl didn’t end up a statistic thanks to the quick thinking of her son Alan.
Cheryl was in the kitchen when Alan noticed his mom’s face was drooping. Cheryl was certain she just needed to lay down for a bit. Luckily for her, Alan insisted otherwise and quickly got her to the Emergency Department at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center in Sheboygan, Wisc.
Alan said he remembered seeing something on TV about the need for immediate treatment for a stroke.
“It was maybe 10 or 20 years ago. I don’t know why I remembered it, but a lightbulb went on,” he said. “That announcement on TV said, ‘get them to the hospital fast.’”
Cheryl was quickly assessed by the emergency department team and taken for a brain scan. By the time she returned to the emergency department, her symptoms had worsened, and her blood pressure had risen to dangerous levels. After bringing Cheryl’s blood pressure under control, she was given a thrombolytic medicine to help break up the clot in her and was then prepared for a trip to Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee for a thrombectomy, a surgery to remove the blood clot in her brain.
While Cheryl’s outcome was positive, there is one change that health care providers would recommend: You should always call 911 if you or a loved one is having stroke symptoms. EMS can begin treatment, as well as making the ED aware before the patient’s arrival.
“Call 911,” said Lynn Stern, nurse and stroke coordinator at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center. “We want people to think of stroke like heart attack. Time is brain. If you call 911, EMS can get to the hospital more quickly and they can call ahead so we can be prepared.”
Anyone can suffer a stroke. There are warning signs to look for but they’re not always present at the time of a stroke. It’s important to remember the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
B.E. F.A.S.T. stands for:
B: Balance loss
E: Eyes, meaning vision is blurry
F: Face drooping
A: Arm drooping to one side
S: Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or being unable to speak
T: Terrible headache and Time to call 911 if you notice any of the above
Want to learn more about your risk for stroke? Take a free, quick online risk assessment by clicking here.
About the Author
Carla Basiliere, health enews contributor, is a seasoned communications professional with over 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Carla has a BS degree in Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota Mankato. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.