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Recognizing Stroke And Getting Help

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017

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 Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive system of inpatient, outpatient and community services connected to meet the health and wellness needs of all members of the community. Our independent and nonprofit system is dedicated to healthcare excellence from childbirth to end-of-life care.

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