Surviving and Thriving After Stroke Means Acting F.A.S.T.

Nov 15, 2019

In the U.S. someone has a new or recurrent stroke about once every 40 seconds, affecting some 795,000 people annually. Stroke ranks No. 5 among all causes of death in the U.S., killing more than 133,000 people a year. One in 4 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Disability and deaths from stroke don’t have to take such a toll. The risk of dying or permanent disability from stroke can be reduced by recognizing the signs and symptoms early and acting immediately. Baptist Health System celebrated World Stroke Day, October 29th, with lifesaving information for the community.

A stroke happens when blood vessels supplying the brain are blocked or burst, limiting blood flow to areas of the brain, and causing cells to die. St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital is one of the city’s few Comprehensive Stroke Centers, designated for the ability to provide the highest level of care for people suffering from a stroke. Michele Patterson, MSN, RN, stroke director at St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital, says knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke and getting medical help quickly is the key to surviving and thriving after a stroke. “Getting medical intervention quickly, during the short window of time when medication can be given or surgery can be performed, can prevent death from stroke and minimize the debilitating side effects that strokes can cause,” says Patterson. “Everyone should know the F.A.S.T. acronym for stroke, (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) and call 911 in order to get to the hospital quickly.” The F.A.S.T. acronym stands for:

F: Facial drooping – A section of the face, usually only on one side, may be drooping or crooked

A: Arm weakness – An inability to raise an arm fully

S: Speech problems – Difficulty understanding speech or speaking

T: Time – If any of these symptoms are showing, call 911 immediately

St. Luke’s Baptist Hospital was the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in San Antonio. Among other things, comprehensive stroke centers offer surgery to remove clots as well as the ability to care for the most complex stroke patients. St. Luke’s 24-hour stroke alert program offers the widest window of treatment along with RAPID imaging to determine the appropriate treatment path. RAPID software takes into consideration the brain’s physiologic status, compared to only using time and duration of symptoms to expand treatment windows for larger vessel ischemic strokes. Endovascular intervention (i.e. clot removal procedures) can be used to stop a stroke’s progress but in the past doctors could only intervene if a patient had been suffering the effects for less than six hours. RAPID technology allows the team to expand the window from 6 to 24 hours.

“Because of these types of advancements in technology and our comprehensive stroke center capabilities we are able to help individuals with severe symptoms, walk out of the hospital and return to their regular lifestyles in a matter of days, says Patterson.”

For more information visit our Comprehensive Stroke Center page.

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