May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and Lake Regional Health System wants everyone to understand that signs of stroke always require an emergency response. Always.
“The faster the response to stroke, the less damage done,” said Crystal Lloyd, R.N., Lake Regional’s stroke coordinator. “If you ever suspect stroke, immediately call 911.”
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke can occur when a blood vessel that feeds oxygen and blood to the brain is blocked by a clot. That’s called an ischemic stroke, and it’s the most common kind. According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), ischemic strokes make up about 87 percent of strokes.
A stroke also can occur when a blood vessel ruptures, spilling blood into the surrounding brain. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13 percent of all strokes, according to the ASA.
Why Is a Stroke Always an Emergency?
A stroke starves the brain of the nutrients it needs. If a stroke interrupts blood flow to a particular part of the brain that controls a body function, that part of the body won’t work normally.
That’s why stroke is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. It kills brain cells. Quick medical treatment is crucial to minimize the long-term effects of stroke and to reduce the risk of death.
What Are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
The major symptoms of a stroke can be best remembered by the acronym FAST, which stands for:
- Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? A quick way to assess this is to ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven or lopsided?
- Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm dip downward?
- Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred, or are they not able to speak at all?
- Time to call 911. This isn’t a symptom but instead an urgent reminder to get help right away — even if the symptoms go away. The best way to get emergency medical help for a stroke is to call 911.
Get Care at a Stroke Center
To get the best care when you or a loved one is having a stroke, you need to have speed, expertise and experience on your side. As a state-designated Level II Stroke Center, Lake Regional provides all three.
Two keys to reducing stroke-related disability and death are rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Among other things, Lake Regional offers:
- A 24/7 acute stroke team. The team includes neurologists and others experienced in stroke diagnosis and treatment.
- Excellent coordination with emergency medical services personnel. This allows care to start before the patient reaches the Emergency Department door.
- Fast access to brain imaging services. That cuts the time it takes to diagnose a stroke. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin.
To learn more about stroke care at Lake Regional, visit lakeregional.com/stroke.