Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in adults, with about 600,000 new strokes reported each year. The good news is that treatments and services, including the Telestroke program, can greatly reduce the chances of damage caused by a stroke. However, it’s vital to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and seek help as quickly as possible.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. When a stroke occurs, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function.
Know the Signs
Because stroke injures the brain, you may not realize that you’re having a stroke. To a bystander who doesn’t recognize the signs, someone having a stroke may just look unaware or confused. This is why it’s so crucial to understand the symptoms:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms and legs, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden loss of balance and coordination, trouble walking
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Not ALL of the warning signs occur during a stroke. If you believe someone is having a stroke – if he or she suddenly loses the ability to speak, loses the ability to move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side – call 911 immediately.
Don’t ignore the signs! The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage, which is why treatment needs to be administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms for the best chance of recovery.
Redwood Area Hospital’s Telestroke program uses a high-end audio/visual computer conferencing system via a secure line to allow neurologists from North Memorial Medical Center to examine, diagnose and treat patients who have possibly suffered a stroke.
“As we know, time is of the essence when it comes to stroke. The sooner that you can get to a stroke center, the greater the chance of recovery, and we’re happy to help our patients in rural areas get the care they need as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Irfan Altafullah.
Additionally, the virtual assessment helps providers determine if a patient can stay at Redwood Area Hospital or if they need to be transported to a comprehensive stroke center such as North Memorial Medical Center.
“By treating patients within three hours of when their symptoms started, we can offer them the greatest possibility of minimizing disability and maximizing recovery,” explains Marley Anderson, one of Redwood Area Hospital’s Telestroke coordinators. “When the emergency department receives a CODE STROKE call, we work quickly with North Memorial to diagnose and treat strokes within one hour of arrival at the ER.”
Thanks to the Telestroke program, stroke victims get treatment from top experts and receive immediate care locally at Redwood Area Hospital. With this advanced technology, we are bringing quicker treatments and better chances of recovery to our rural community, keeping high-quality care close to home.
Simple 4-Step Test – Act F.A.S.T.
Use the following tool to help you recognize stroke symptoms and act F.A.S.T.:
FACE – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
TIME – If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911 or get to the hospital fast.