Stroke Care: The Importance of Acting Fast
When it comes to stroke, time is usually not on your side. In the US, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked by a clot or bursts. With each passing minute, brain cells start dying due to lack of oxygen-rich blood.
That’s why stroke is a leading cause of disability in the U.S. and the number five cause of death. It’s also why doctors say “time is brain.” To save it, you have to BE FAST and ACT FAST — so we can TREAT FAST.
What Does BE FAST Stand for in Stroke Care
“BE FAST” is an easy way to recognize stroke symptoms. It stands for:
- B – sudden loss of Balance
- E – sudden blurring of Eyes, loss of vision or double vision.
- F – drooping on one side of your Face that’s noticeable when you smile.
- A – sudden weakness causing one Arm to drift downward when both are raised
- S – speech difficulties such as struggling to repeat a phrase or slurring your words.
- T – Time means call 911 immediately when you notice any one of these signs. Remember, time is brain. The longer it takes to get help, the more you lose.
So don’t hesitate. Don’t wait to see if symptoms go away. Act Fast. Call 911 for an ambulance right away, which is safer and quicker than arriving by car.
Call an Ambulance in the Case of a Stroke
Calling 911 is also better for three important reasons. EMS professionals can:
- Assess and monitor your condition.
- Start appropriate treatments right away.
- Alert the emergency department that you are on the way, so staff can be ready for you.
What Happens when a Patient gets Stroke Treatment
Once you arrive in the emergency department, you will be quickly assessed by a provider. The provider will ask when the symptoms started. This timestamp determines what treatment you can receive. If less than 4 and a half hours have passed, you may qualify for a medication that breaks down the clot.
You may also qualify for a thrombectomy. During this procedure, a provider may actually be able to remove the clot from your brain. Certain people qualify for both tPA and thrombectomy, if needed.
But before either of these happen, your care team will complete an evaluation. This evaluation may include a CT scan to determine if you may qualify for the tPA or thrombectomy. The CT is quick and non-invasive – much like an X-ray. We will also check your blood work for signs of an infection, blood sugar and electrolytes. Time is brain, so the evaluation will happen quickly.
Following your time in the Emergency Department, if the providers feel you need further evaluation, you will be admitted to the hospital.
Remember, the clock starts ticking as soon as stroke symptoms start. To get time on your side, BE FAST and ACT FAST — so we can TREAT FAST.
These blogs were written by the CHI Health Neurology Team.