Monday, May 2, 2016

A stroke occurs when oxygen can no longer reach the brain. The arteries leading to the brain can be blocked or the vessels may rupture. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of disability as well as the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. We can be a hero and help save someone. The word to know is FAST. It is actually an acronym that represents:

  • Face
  • Arm
  • Speech
  • Time

Face – The face is usually relatively symmetrical. If you notice that one side of someone's face begins to droop, this could a sign that he or she is having a stroke. The brain is no longer able to communicate to the muscles within the face and one side starts to hang down.

Arm – If someone begins to have weakness and the inability to maneuver an arm or a hand, this also could be a result of a stroke. You may ask them to raise both arms and see if they are able to control them.

Speech – When an individual has difficulty forming words or proper sentences, this too is a sign that cannot be ignored.

Time – Once a person displays even one of these signs or symptoms, there is no time to wait. He or she needs specialized medical treatment as fast as possible. You should not put them in your car and drive them to the hospital. It is imperative that 9-1-1 is called. The first three hours are extremely critical. A clot-busting medication can only be effectively administered within this short time period. Even if the 3 hour window has been surpassed, it is still important to contact 9-1-1.

Norman Regional Health System (NRHS) has designated as a Certified Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. According to the Joint Commission, this designation has been awarded based on the exceptional effort and best practices unique to patients who have experienced a stroke. They are used to create the opportunity for better long-term outcomes. The ability to provide this level of care should provide our community with peace of mind.

EMSStat is NRHS's emergency medical service that serves Norman, Moore and the surrounding communities. When they are informed of a potential stroke, they begin communicating with the emergency room so that the appropriate personnel are onsite to provide immediate care upon arrival. The clot busting medication is called Tissue Plasminogen Activator or tPA for short. This medication will be administered upon arrival in the emergency room. The faster it is administered, the more brain cells can be saved. According to Tom Gremling, MSN-E, RN, NRHS Stroke Training Center Coordinator at NRHS, "Studies show that early detection and activation of the EMS system is imperative when dealing with stroke. At the time of a stroke event, a billion brain cells a minute are dying off, so remember Time is Brain, act FAST!"

By acting FAST, you can be a hero. You have the ability to save a life or the quality of someone’s lifestyle. Remember: Face, Arm, Speech and Time.