With all the concern about the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on our lives, it’s easy to overlook the fact that May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Certainly remain vigilant and do what you can to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also take some time this month to think about the members of our community who have been impacted by strokes, and make sure you know what to do if a stroke occurs.
National Stroke Awareness Month is all about beating strokes; that means preventing strokes and also getting the best treatment possible if a stroke occurs. Strokes remain a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, especially in the Southeast. When a stroke happens it basically means blood flow to the brain is disrupted, which leads to brain damage. Often strokes occur when a blood vessel is blocked (an ischemic stroke), but other kinds of strokes can occur because of bleeding in the brain (a hemorrhagic stroke). Regardless of the reason the stroke occurs, the most important thing to do when you recognize a stroke has happened is call 9-1-1.
The treatment for strokes is time sensitive. The sooner you get to the hospital the better the outcome is going to be. Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is home to the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center and provides our community with endovascular stroke treatments, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Many people know a stroke is an emergency, but not everyone is able to recognize all the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Recently, the American Stroke Association added BE to their FAST mnemonic to help raise awareness of stroke symptoms. The new mnemonic, BE FAST, stands for:
B – BALANCE sudden loss of coordination.
E – EYES rapid loss of vision, blurry vision or double vision.
F – FACE uneven facial movement, one eye/mouth droop or loss of sensation in the face.
A – ARMS weakness or loss of sensation on one side of the body.
S – SPEECH slurred speech, speech that is disorganized or a sudden inability to communicate.
T – TIME it’s time to call 9-1-1 if you suspect someone is having a stroke – don’t wait!
BE FAST is an excellent tool to help remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and it could help you save someone’s life one day. In addition to the signs and symptoms represented in BE FAST, certain kinds of strokes are frequently associated with a very severe headache that appears without an obvious cause.
Remember, stay home and follow COVID-19 precautions during this pandemic, but if you recognize someone is having a stroke, don’t delay, call 9-1-1. In the spirit of National Stroke Awareness Month take some time to consider how strokes have impacted our community, your friends or even your family, and think about what you can do to help beat strokes.
To learn more about strokes and the comprehensive stroke services at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, visit TMH.ORG/Stroke.