Stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States, and also is the fourth highest cause of death. Knowing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly to get medical help could save the life of someone you love.
In Walla Walla, Providence St Mary Medical Center has access to stroke specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2011, Providence St. Mary joined the Providence Telestroke Network to ensure all stroke patients coming into the ER have rapid access to a neurologist, regardless of the hour. Neurologists from the Providence Telestroke Network, “beam in” to the ER through a robot, allowing them to see and speak to the patient, the family, and ER physicians and nurses. The telehealth robot also allows the neurologists to virtually visit and consult on stroke patients admitted to the hospital.
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. with these easy-to-remember steps.
Face: Is one side of the face drooping? Ask the person to smile and look for a lopsided grin.
Arms: Does one arm seem weaker than the other? Ask the person to lift their arms over their head and look to see if one arm is drifting downward.
Speech: Is their speech slow or slurred? Find out by asking them to repeat a simple phrase.
Time: If any of the above signs are present, call 911 immediately. Note the time when symptoms began so you can report this to the responding medical team.
Other symptoms may include a severe headache with no apparent cause or sudden trouble with vision in one or both eyes.
It’s critical to get medical attention right away if you or someone you know is having a stroke. Acting quickly can lead to better treatment options to minimize damage to the brain and reduce the risk of long-term injury.
What is a Stroke?
Blood vessels carry oxygen and essential nutrients to the brain. When one of these vessels ruptures or becomes blocked by a clot, a stroke occurs. During a stroke, the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen and consequently, brain cells die.
There are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic is the most common type, and occurs when a clot causes a blockage and inhibits blood flow and oxygen to the brain. A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is caused by a temporary clot. This is also known as a “mini stroke.”
- Hemorrhagic makes up about 15 percent of all strokes. It occurs when a blood vessel bursts and prevents blood flow to the brain.
About 85 percent of strokes are ischemic, or caused by a clot. Medical treatment is available to help dissolve the clot and may increase the chance of recovery. However, treatment must be given within three to four hours of the first signs of a stroke. That is why it’s important to seek help right away by calling 911. The paramedics will also call ahead to activate the hospital stroke response team to be ready upon your loved one’s arrival to the Emergency Department.
Providence St Mary Medical Center is a Level II Stroke Center as categorized by the Washington Department of Health and has a CARF-accredited inpatient rehabilitation unit for stroke recovery.
Susan Leathers, RN
Stroke Program Coordinator, Providence St. Mary Medical Center