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Time Matters in Stroke Treatment

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:

  • Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
  • A sudden, severe headache or an unusual headache, which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness
  • Confusion, problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception

You can also use the F.A.S.T. method for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:

  • F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest stroke center or hospital. Norman Regional Hospital, 901 N. Porter, has a stroke program that is certified in disease specific care.

Certain risk factors also increase the chances a person might have a stroke. Risk factors for a stroke include:

  • Family history of stroke
  • Undesirable levels of blood cholesterol
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity or a sedentary lifestyle

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.

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Contact Kelly Wells
Norman Regional Health System

Office (405) 307.2143
Fax (405) 307.2144