Time Matters When Treating Strokes

When it comes to strokes, the clock is always ticking.

A stroke kills brain cells when blood vessels to the brain are either blocked by a clot or suddenly ruptured. There are two types of strokes. Hemorrhagic, or bleeding strokes, occur when a blood vessel ruptures.

Ischemic, or dry strokes, occur when a blood clot has lodged into an artery of the brain, reducing blood flowto the rest of the body. Of the 800,000 strokes that occur every year in the U.S., 80 percent are ischemic.
Strokes are a time-sensitive disease for two reasons.

First, the longer the brain goes without a fresh blood supply, the more extensive and permanent the damage may be.

Second, the medications and procedures that can be used to treat strokes – some of which are fairly new – have a time limit. If a patient doesn’t get medical treatment within a certain number of hours after a stroke begins, treatment options diminish.

Advancements in stroke care have come a long way since the 1990s. For nearly 75 years, stroke was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2008, it slipped to fourth and today, it’s fifth.However, it’s still the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

“We’re seeing younger and younger people with co-morbidities that put them at risk for stroke: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,” says Cody Monyelle, a registered nurse and the stroke coordinator at Beloit Health System. “Those are all high-risk factors for stroke.”

With that in mind, it’s important for people of all ages to know the signs of a stroke, which tends to occur suddenly. The BE FAST memory cue is an easy way to learn the symptoms. If stroke symptoms appear, call emergency medical services (EMS) right away. ❚

Remember to BE FAST.
If you or a loved one are experiencing a combination of these, call 911 immediately.

B – Balance: coordination issues
E – Eyes: sudden blurriness or changes in vision, even in one eye
F – Face: a droopy face or crooked smile
A – Arms: numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
S – Speech: sudden slurring of words or trouble speaking
T – Time: call 911 and/or Terrible headache

To learn more about strokes, visit the American Stroke Association at stroke.org.