Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, and being able to recognize the signs and symptoms can help you or a loved one get the quick medical attention they need. Stroke symptoms include:
- Weakness on one side of the body.
- Change in vision, often blurriness or blindness in one of your vision fields.
- Sudden onset of dizziness or extreme headache.
- Staggering gate/difficulty balancing.
- Slurred speech/speech difficulty.
- Facial droop.
The word FAST can help you remember the signs of a stroke:
- Face: Does the face look uneven?
- Arm: Does one arm drift down?
- Speech: Does their speech sound strange?
- Time: Every second, brain cells die. Call 911 at any sign of stroke.
Symptoms can include a combination of those in the face, arm and speech categories, and sometimes in just one.
When a person experiences a stroke, the brain tissue stops receiving blood flow to this particular area and then starts dying after 6 to 20 minutes. Acting quickly is of utmost importance because the longer that blood flow is blocked, the more damage the brain experiences. The quicker a stroke patient receives care, the better the outcome. In most cases, patients have the best chance of recovery if they are treated within 6 to 8 hours.
At Cone Health, we have a dedicated stroke team. When a stroke patient reaches the hospital, the Stroke Center team evaluates the nature of the stroke to determine the best course of treatment. We often administer a clot-busting medication, which must be given within 4 and a half hours of having a stroke. We also perform a procedure that removes the clot, if necessary, and allows blood to flow back into the brain. The sooner this procedure is done, the better the outcome, as 80 to 85% of procedures successfully remove the blockage and restore blood flow to the brain.
Hannah Steele is a registered nurse with The Stroke Center at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital. She received her Bachelor of Science in registered nursing from Gardner-Webb University.