Stroke: Be Fast and Spot Symptoms Quickly

Northwestern Medicine
Neurosciences May 15, 2019
Stroke remains the number one cause of preventable medical disability in the United States. Recognizing the signs of stroke and seeking rapid treatment can result in better outcomes.

Listen to a podcast featuring Ryan Keiler, MSN, RN, stroke education coordinator at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital
Stroke: Reduce Risk and Spot Symptoms Quickly

“Stroke is essentially a brain attack. Part of your brain is no longer being supplied by blood,” said Ryan Keiler, MSN, RN, stroke education coordinator at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital. “For every minute that passes without blood flow to the brain, you lose almost two million brain cells.”

To help spot the symptoms of stroke quickly, Keiler says learn and memorize the acronym BEFAST.

B – Sudden loss of Balance
E – Sudden loss of vision in one or both Eyes
F – Uneven Face (facial droop), or uneven smile
A – Sudden Arm weakness
S – Sudden slurred Speech or trouble speaking; confusion
TTime is critical – call 9-1-1 immediately

“You don’t have to have all five symptoms, even just one could be a sign of a stroke,” said Keiler. “If you see one of those symptoms, even if it is questionable in yourself or those around you, it is time to call 9-1-1 immediately.”

Patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those whose care was delayed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For patients near Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois, emergency stroke care can be delivered even sooner. The Northwestern Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit is a specialized ambulance equipped with a 16-slice CT scanner to take detailed images of the brain, a direct telemedicine connection to neurologists and stroke-specific medications, including the clot-busting drug tPA.

During its first year of service, the Northwestern Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit provided life-saving treatment 30 minutes faster than traditional transport. A data analysis found, on average, the Mobile Stroke Unit delivered tPA to ischemic stroke patients 52 minutes after 9-1-1 dispatch, compared to an average of 82 minutes for patients transported via ambulance.

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