What You Should Know
Rapid Response is Vital
A stroke is a medical emergency. You need to arrive at the hospital as soon as possible after symptoms start to avoid being disabled. If you have a stroke, you or someone else should call 911 and get to a hospital.
If you or someone you know is having a stroke, you should call 911 immediately, and not wait or hesitate.
The longer the flow of blood is cut off to your brain, the greater the damage to it.
The National Stroke Association’s acronym FAST can help you quickly determine whether someone is having a stroke:
- F (Face): Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
- A (Arms): Ask them to raise both of their arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S (Speech): Ask them to repeat a simple phrase (such as “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”) Is their speech slurred or hard to understand?
- T (Time): If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Always be sure to note the time of onset of symptoms.
A special clot-busting medication, known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), if given within three or four hours of the first symptom, may help reduce long-term disability for the most common kind of stroke.
Lower Your Risk
While everyone is potentially at risk for stroke, it is easier to manage your risk for stroke than you might think, since there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make that can help reduce your risk for stroke, including:
- Eating right: low-fat, low-salt diet helps lower cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in the blood can clog your arteries, increasing stroke risk
- Exercising: regular exercise to improve health and lose weight
- Not smoking: smoking doubles your risk of stroke
- Controlling high blood pressure: one of the major risk factors for stroke, reducing blood pressure reduces risk of stroke
- Management of diabetes: people with diabetes are as many as four times likelier to have a stroke than someone without it
You can contact the Northwestern Stroke Center at 312-926-5188 or by the external transfer line at 312-926-3321.