Act fast with stroke


Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.

And, in an effort to combat that, local experts are speaking out about what you can look for if you think you or someone you know is experiencing one.

You can lower your risk and seek treatment… but unfortunately predicting a stroke isn’t an option.

“It’s kind of like a heart attack only it’s a brain attack and the longer they wait to fix that problem that’s going on inside their brain the more problems they are going to have,” Scott Christensen said.

Clincal manager of PatientCare EMS Scott Christensen says strokes were one of the topics at a recent citywide case review involving all emergency agencies.

“One of the things that we discovered through that process was that we felt like we weren’t doing as good of a job putting the message out to people what stroke symptoms would look like,” Christensen said.

Avera Stroke Coordinator Ellen Gulbrandson says every second matters.

“During a stroke event about 2 million brain cells are dying per minute and that causes permanent damage, and the faster we can get a patient to the hospital and get them treated for stroke, the more brain tissue we can save for that patient,” Gulbrandson said.

An easy way to remember stroke symptoms is the F.A.S.T. acronym.
F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech slurring, and T for time to call 911.

Even if you aren’t experiencing all of the symptoms of a stroke experts say calling 911 will make a big difference in your outcome if you are.

“They can take certain interventions to make sure that you’re safe, make sure that you’re not going to end up having an adverse medical event during your stroke, but they can also call ahead and let our stroke team know you need to be prepared for this patient to come in,” Gulbrandson said.

If you’re unsure, seek help and don’t wait.

“Really what we want to communicate with those patients is you’re never overreacting by coming to the hospital. There’s nothing wrong with coming to the hospital and being evaluated. If it’s nothing, that’s great it’s nothing and you get to go home,” Gulbrandson said.

Gulbrandson says other symptoms people can watch for are changes in balance or vision.

To read more on the signs and symptoms of stroke, click here.

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