Time is not on your side during a stroke. In fact, the faster you can get to a hospital, the better, said Dr. James Duncan, a board-certified neurologist and medical director of the stroke program at Norman Regional Health System.
Once a stroke happens, Duncan recommends getting to the hospital within three to four hours so the clot that caused the stroke can be dissolved with medication.
“The sooner a person can get to a hospital, the better,” Duncan said. “But it’s still important to go to the hospital regardless of the time since the symptoms began. And it’s best to call 911, rather than having a family member take a patient to the hospital.”
A stroke is caused by a blood clot forming in the brain, or forming in the heart and traveling to the brain. The clot deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients and cause brain cells to die.
So what are the symptoms you need to recognize to quickly identify a stroke? Dr. Duncan said the most common signs are weakness on one side of the body and difficulty with speech. Others include:
You can also use the F.A.S.T. method for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:
Certain risk factors also increase the chances a person might have a stroke. Risk factors for a stroke include:
A previous stroke also increases the chances someone might have another stroke. Your risk of stroke increases as you age, but strokes can also occur in people in their 40s and 50s, Duncan said.
“Strokes are more common in younger people, than most people realize,” he said.
With fast treatment, a person can recover from a stroke. Norman Regional Health System has earned the Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers for two years in a row. The Gold Seal of Approval is a sign that Norman Regional is compliant with the most stringent standards of performance.
“Any hospital can take care of a stroke, but the Gold Seal from The Joint Commission shows we have a higher level of care,” Duncan said. “This certification means Norman Regional meets national qualifications for a stroke program.”
The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements/guidelines for stroke care.