Call Us 866.600.CARE

Providers Weigh In: Know the Signs of Stroke — and Have a Plan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Melissa Angulo
Melissa Angulo
Stroke Institute

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every 4 minute; and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

But by controlling risk factors that include high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, lack of exercise, and smoking, 80 percent of stroke are preventable.

Just as important as stroke prevention is the ability to identify stroke and seek immediate treatment.

A stroke is a “brain attack” that occurs when the blood flow to a part of the brain is disrupted. When this happens, brain cells begin to die as they are deprived of oxygen. Depending on where the stroke occurs, the functions controlled by that area of the brain, such as muscle control, are damaged. For every minute that a stroke goes untreated, almost 2 million brain cells are lost, increasing the chances of long-term damage.

“Stroke is a medical emergency and must be treated as quickly as possible,” says Melissa Angulo, a nurse practitioner at the UI Health Stroke Institute. “It happens fast and can lead to long-term disability,  depending on how quickly it is diagnosed and treated. Knowing the symptoms and getting to the hospital fast can increase your chance of complete recovery and allow you to enjoy the lifestyle you had prior to the stroke.”

Know the Symptoms of Stroke

When stroke occurs, an individual may experience sudden difficulties with common functions. The most common symptoms of stroke include:

  • Confusion, including trouble speaking and understanding
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, including dizziness and loss of coordination or balance

Time Saved = Brain Saved

The acronym F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember how to detect and respond to stroke-like symptoms. If you develop or see someone developing symptoms suggestive of a stroke — even if there is no pain — think F.A.S.T.

  • F — Face drooping: One side of the face is drooping or numb. Ask the person to smile.
  • A — Arm weakness: One arm is weak or numb. Ask the person to raise both arms.
  • S — Speech difficulty: Speech is strange or slurred. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
  • T — Time to call 911: Call 911 immediately if any of these signs are noticed — even if the symptom or symptoms go away. Take note of the time the first symptom appeared. This information is important and can impact treatment options.

The sooner you get to the hospital and the sooner you get intervention, the faster the recovery.

Stroke Treatment

Treatment for stroke depends on the cause and type of the stroke. UI Health is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, providing the highest level of care to the most complex stroke cases 24/7. Our experts from several specialties collaborate together to provide the best stroke care based on the individual needs of the patient. To learn more about UI Health Stroke Institute, visit UIHealthStroke.Care.