On the latest episode of Health Matters with Doylestown Health, two stroke experts discuss how to recognize a stroke and what to do if somebody is having a stroke.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability. Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (called an ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (called ahemorrhagic stroke), according to the American Stroke Association.
Brooke Kearins, MSN, CRNP is the director of Stroke Services for Doylestown Hospital. She shares an acronym that should help people remember the signs of stroke and the importance of getting medical help right away.
BE FAST stands for:
Balance – Trouble with balance or coordination
Eyes – Blurred vision or sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
Face – Uneven smile, face drooping
Arm – Arm weakness, leg weakness, numbness on one side
Speech – Slurring of speech, person is hard to understand
Time – Time to call 911 and take note of when symptoms began
Health Matters: Stroke
Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing and a change in mental status, notes Doylestown Health neurologist Sudhir Aggarwal, MD, PhD.
If a family member is experiencing a stroke, it is important to note when the symptoms began and to gather a list of medications the patient is taking.
There are several reasons why calling 911 is the best thing to do in a stroke emergency. Most EMS (Emergency Medical Services) providers are assessing patients for stroke before arrival at the hospital.
The ambulance squad works closely with Doylestown Hospital on getting patients faster treatment for time-critical emergencies like heart attack and stroke. When emergency medical personnel suspect a stroke, they notify Doylestown Hospital’s Emergency Department with a "pre-hospital stroke alert." The alert makes available the CT scan in the Emergency Department and notifies stroke experts (neurologist, radiologist, laboratory and pharmacy) to be ready for the patient’s arrival.
With an alert from the ambulance, patients get faster care at the hospital. Dr. Aggarwal notes that stroke patients who are transferred by ambulance have better outcomes.
"Time is brain," adds Brooke. "The more time we can save, the better the outcomes for patients." About 2 million neurons are lost per minute without treatment. The damage to the brain is permanent.
Brooke also talks about community education by Doylestown Health in an effort to raise stroke awareness and prevention. Programs include free screenings and lectures. View the Doylestown Health education calendar.
Dr. Aggarwal is interested in particular in educating young people about the signs and symptoms of stroke so they can spot a stroke and know to call 911 right away. He is hoping to work with local schools on an outreach project.
During the show, Dr. Aggarwal and Brooke also discuss how to prevent stroke and innovations in stroke treatment.
About Stroke Care at Doylestown Health
Doylestown Hospital follows national guidelines that can greatly improve long-term outcomes for stroke patients. The Joint Commission awarded Doylestown Hospital with the Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers in recognition of our commitment to excellence in stroke care. As part of this multidisciplinary program, Doylestown Health interventional cardiologists perform an innovative non-surgical stroke treatment for large vessel blockages through Intra-Arterial Thrombectomy (IAT) to remove a stroke-causing clot thus resolving stroke symptoms immediately.