Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the country, according to the National Stroke Association.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and how to react to it can be lifesaving.
“Most people know what to do if they’re having cardiac symptoms, meaning they’re having a heart attack,” explains Krista Johnson, stroke coordinator at Carroll Hospital. “They recognize it as an emergency and call 9-1-1. But when people are having stroke-like symptoms, it is a brain attack. It’s just as important that you act quickly and seek treatment.”
As part of the stroke team at Carroll Hospital, Johnson visits different community groups and hosts free events to educate people on the signs and symptoms of a stroke—from the commonly recognized symptoms to the often overlooked.
“A lot of people would recognize symptoms such as the facial droop, slurred speech and arm weakness,” says Johnson. “But one thing people don’t always take into consideration is that a stroke can appear much less prominently, such as loss or change in your vision or just being unsteady on your feet. Making sure people understand that even those small changes need immediate attention can be very impactful.”
Just as important as knowing the signs of a stroke is knowing how to react. Because a stroke is a blood clot in your brain, a faster response time means less time that your brain is deprived of oxygen—and a greater chance of a long-term recovery.
“We want people to call 9-1-1 and come to the as quickly as possible,” she continues. “There are treatments that we can offer most stroke patients depending upon how quickly they come in. One effective treatment for certain types of stroke is a medication option that must be administered within four-and-a-half hours of the symptoms’ onset. It is a pretty small window of time, so patients should not wait if they’re showing symptoms.”
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain are blocked or leaking. Similar to a heart attack, your chances of recovery greatly improve when you seek immediate care. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone around you experience symptoms of a stroke.