As emergency rooms across the country are becoming inundated with Covid-19 patients, the numbers of patients showing up suffering from other ailments has dramatically decreased according to many hospitals. ER staff members have been left wondering, where are all the chest pain patients, the broken bones, various infections? Where are the stroke patients? 

 

One of the biggest concerns when you think about delaying treatment is when one is experiencing symptoms of a CVA, cerebrovascular accident or as most know it as stroke. A stroke is when blood supply is suddenly interrupted to the brain. According to the CDC “Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious disability nationwide and around the world.”* Every second matters as the interruption of blood flow causes death of brain tissue. The medication available to treat strokes can only be given within a very short time frame from the onset of symptoms. 

 

Most recently, those treating patients are reporting that many younger Covid patients (meaning less than 50 years old) are experiencing new onset large-vessel ischemic stroke. Given that May is stroke awareness month, it’s time to talk about symptoms. When you’re concerned that you or a loved one is experiencing a stroke, think FAST.


F- face drooping

A- arm weakness
S- speech slurred
T- time matters

 

 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. (Remember, if you can’t speak, in many states you can now TEXT 911. Check your state policy for specifics.)

To do a quick neurological assessment of a loved one, ask them to smile. Is their face symmetrical? Is there any unusual droopiness?  If you ask them to lift their arms in front of them, does one arm drift? Can they squeeze your hands with equal strength? How is their speech? Is it slurred? Is it nonsensical? Does one pupil look larger than the other? If any of these assessments are abnormal to you, they may be experiencing a stroke and need immediate attention.

Other symptoms of stroke include sudden severe headache, impaired vision in one or both eyes, sudden confusion, dizziness and lack of coordination.

Quick recognition of symptoms and swift treatment of stroke will minimize risk to life or long lasting brain damage.
The time that the symptoms first appeared should be noted as it will matter in how the stroke is treated. Do not drive or have someone else drive you. Call 911 so treatment can begin in the ambulance.

The hospitals are equipped to take care of you. Recognizing the signs of stroke just might save you or a loved one’s life. For more information on strokes visit the American Stroke Association https://www.stroke.org.

* “Stroke Communications Kit | cdc.gov.” https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/communications_kit.htm. Accessed 30 Apr. 2020.

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