When it comes to social distancing and staying home, one thing that definitely shouldn’t keep you grounded is if you are showing signs of a stroke.
“If you are having symptoms, you still need to come in and seek treatment in a timely manner,” said Jerilyn Alexander, RN, Stroke Coordinator with Trinity Health.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die, hence the importance of acting fast as immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.
Patients that present at Trinity Hospital within 4.5 hours from when symptoms started may be eligible for a clot busting medication called Activase, or tPA, if they are having an ischemic stroke: 85 percent of all strokes are ischemic, which involve the occlusion of blood vessels, while the remaining 15 percent are hemorrhagic, which involve burst blood vessels.
Alexander advises calling 9-1-1 and having an ambulance transport you to the hospital, rather than driving yourself or having someone else drive you. “The ambulance can pre-notify the hospital and start medical treatment in the rig on the way to the hospital,” she said. Please be sure to advise EMS/healthcare providers of any risks for exposure to COVID-19.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, as well as the leading cause of disability, in the United States. It kills 140,000, or one in 20, Americans each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. Additionally, more that 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke annually. About 610,000 are first or new strokes; the rest have had a previous stroke.
Alexander noted the volume of stroke patients overall has increased, “but I think it’s related to people being more aware.” She said there is a catch-22: Patients are recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and acting upon them appropriately; unfortunately, at the same time, stroke is still happening.
When it comes to recognizing the signs of a stroke, it pays to BE FAST, an acronym for what to look for if you are having a stroke.
B – Balance: Sudden changes in balance
E – Eyes: Sudden changes in vision, such as blurred vision or loss of vision
F – Face: Facial drooping
A – Arm: Can’t maintain arm elevation, starts to drift down
S – Speech: Slurred speech or difficulty getting the right words out
T – Time: Call 9-1-1!