May is an important month because it is Stroke Awareness Month. Unfortunately, many do not know this fact. If you are one of the few who are aware – A HARDY CONGRATULATIONS. But believe me, if you are unaware, you are not the only one. I must admit that before I started our Foundation a few years ago, I did not know it either! As a survivor – shame on me!
That said, what is important going forward, is that we learn a few critical facts regarding stroke which could have an impact on you. And that goes back to the important phrase, which is the title of this post, TIME IS BRAIN!
From my survivor perspective the term TIME IS BRAIN should be viewed in two ways:
Firstly, the information and ability to act decisively and effectively should you suspect a stroke in order to mitigate brain loss.
And, secondly, the effectiveness and timeliness of stroke recovery measures should a stroke have occurred to maximize recovery.
This post will address the first aspect of TIME IS BRAIN and a second post later this month will address the second, Stroke Recovery.
It is critical that if you think that you, or someone in your proximity, is exhibiting stroke-like symptoms that they get to a hospital, and better yet, a Stroke Center ASAP. To accomplish that-
CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!
Do not worry or be embarrassed that you might be wrong. It is better to be wrong and there is no stroke than be wrong, and by not taking effective action, it turns out there really was a stroke. In the latter case, you would have wasted TIME which may mean more serious survivor deficits, which may turn out to be long-term – therefore life-changing. Or in the worst case – death!
Regarding an ambulance – -if you or someone else drives to the hospital I guarantee you that you are burning critical time. For one thing, the driver will be stopping at traffic lights while the ambulance will be sailing thru. Also, when you arrive at the hospital by car you may not be seen as rapidly while the ambulance patient will be taken immediately to the emergency room.
And finally, with all the newer technology many ambulances have tele-med technology on board so that a diagnosis can be made while the patient is moving. This allows the hospital center to make time-saving preparations before the patient has even arrived.
HOW TO DETECT STROKE SYMPTOMS
There are several descriptions to make it easier for a person to identify stroke symptoms. I am including two versions – the first is the most common and easiest to decipher, and the second is a bit more precise which was created with the assistance of several medical professionals.
You may have heard the term FAST when it comes to stroke.
F – Face drooping is exhibited by the patient!
A – Arm weakness or possible paralysis has occurred!
S – Speech becomes impaired or slurring of words is exhibited!
T – Time – Call 911 ASAP! No driving.
The following is a bit more detailed, precise and some readers may prefer it.
If you notice any of these signs- ACT– IMMEDIATELY
Sudden numbness, or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body,
Sudden droopiness in the mouth while trying to smile.
Sudden change of vision – blurred, blackened, or double-vision in one or both eyes,
Sudden severe or persistent headache,
Sudden trouble with speaking or understanding speech.
Sudden loss of balance or coordination,
CALL 911-IMMEDIATELY — DO NOT DRIVE TO THE HOSPITAL
Stroke is complex. There are many types of strokes but the most common is what is called an Ischemic Stroke. This is a clot in the blood stream which cuts off the blood flow. This type of stroke occurs about 85% of the time so it is the most common. If you, or someone in your proximity, act promptly – in a 3-hour timeframe – then the survivor will probably get what is called the tPA treatment. Hopefully, that will mitigate the more serious issues, perhaps most or all issues. It just depends on the specific case!
The second broad type of stroke is a brain bleed, known as a Hemorrhagic Stroke, which accounts for about 15% of strokes. That type of stroke is not appropriate for tPA, still time is of the essence.
All this talk about time may sound simple, but I have heard so many stories in which the patient thought their symptoms were a headache, the flu, or just a fleeting moment, or confusion, and as a result, effective action was not taken in a timely fashion
STROKE AT ANY AGE
The last thing I would like to mention in this awareness post, and again, most people are not aware – stroke is not just an older persons’ disease. Yes, 2/3ds of strokes occur in people over 65 years of age. But that leaves 1/3 that are under 65. And fully 10% of strokes occur in people under 50. That is between 90 and 100,000 people in the US per year who are under 50 years of age and are suffering strokes. That includes people of all ages including, very unfortunately, babies, children, young adults, and adults under 50. Surprised?
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO BECOME STROKE AWARE.
Founder and Managing Director