Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

National Stroke Awareness Month
Stroke Prevention: Be Fast

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Every year more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. The best outcomes are typically tied to getting treatment quickly. Here to help us understand strokes and the signs and symptoms they may lead with is Ann Lage, APN, with Carle Neuroscience Institute.

What exactly is a stroke and are there different types?
• A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures).
• When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.
• A stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (called an ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (called a hemorrhagic stroke).
• A TIA (transient ischemic attack), or “mini stroke”, is caused by a temporary clot.
• Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.

How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?
The most common way to recognize a stroke is “BE FAST.” It is an easy way to remember how to quickly detect early warning signs of someone having a stroke. Treating a stroke with medication effectively is a window of just four hours.
• B – Balance
Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
• E – Eyes
Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
• F – Face Drooping
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
• A – Arm Weakness
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
• S – Speech Difficulty
Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
• T – Time to call 911
If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately
Either blood supply to part of your brain is restricted or there is bleeding into the brain when a stroke occurs and the earlier any of these signs are addressed the better the outcomes

What should you do if someone you think someone is having a stroke?
• Call 911 immediately.
• Note the time you first see symptoms.
• Perform CPR, if necessary.
• Do Not Let that person go to sleep or talk you out of calling 911.
• Do Not Give them medication, food, or drinks.
• Do Not Drive yourself or someone else to the emergency room.

What experience does Carle have with treating strokes?
The Carle Foundation Hospital is the only certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in the region in a Level I Trauma Center.
Additionally, both Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal recently received recognition for exceptional stroke care by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are central to the measurements used.

Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle BroMenn Medical Center also met strict quality measures in the time between patient arrival to the hospital and their treatment.

How are you treating strokes at Carle?
• The health care provider will suspect stroke, based on the medical history and physical examination. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain will be done to further evaluate the area of the brain involved in the stroke and to determine if the stroke is due to a blood clot or a burst blood vessel.
• Endovascular procedures. Endovascular procedures may be used to treat certain hemorrhagic strokes. The doctor inserts a long tube through a major artery in the leg or arm and then guides the tube to the site of the weak spot or break in a blood vessel.
• Surgical treatment. Hemorrhagic strokes may be treated with surgery. If the bleeding is caused by a ruptured aneurysm, a metal clip may be put in place to stop the blood loss.

How can people avoid having a stroke?
• Lifestyle changes have a tremendous effect on preventing strokes. Keep moving. Do some form of exercise three to four times a week.
• If you have high blood pressure, take control of it and adjust your diet with lower sodium intake and fewer foods containing processed sugar. You could even switch to a plant-based diet with moderate use of fish, dairy and poultry as well as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil.
• Stop using tobacco products. Ask your physician for effective ways you can adapt to life without tobacco. Some insurance companies even offer discounts for smoking cessation programs.
• Manage your diabetes and atrial fibrillation (Afib). Ask your physician for help.
• Pay attention if you have a TIA (transient ischemic attack) which has stroke-like symptoms because of a blood vessel blockage but goes away. TIAs may be a warning sign of a stroke.
• Remember be fast.