Intermountain Healthcare

How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/30/2021 --May is stroke awareness month and doctors want people to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke so they can know what to do if someone they are with is experiencing one.

Quick treatment during a stroke is one of the most important factors in determining a good outcome. A stroke occurs when a portion of the brain doesn't get enough blood for a period of time. The most common type of stroke is ischemic (over 85% of the time) usually caused by a blocked artery. The symptoms depend on the area of brain that isn't getting enough blood and can impact movement, speech, vision, and/or balance.

"We have a saying in neurology 'Time is Brain' which means, the sooner patients get treated, the fewer brain cells will be lost. Every second a person is having a stroke, 32,000 neurons die" said Dr. Megan Donohue, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Intermountain Medical Center. "The faster we get you to the hospital the better odds a person has of a full recovery without losing brain or body functions."

During the COVID-19 pandemic caregivers saw a decline in patients coming to the hospital for symptoms of stroke and one of the biggest fears was that people were waiting to seek treatment because they were worried about getting COVID-19. Doctors want to assure people that hospitals are safe places to seek care. If you believe you or another person is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.

About 40% of people in the United States can't identify at least one of the symptoms of a stroke. A good way to remember the signs of stroke is by using the acronym BE FAST.
B = Balance – sudden dizziness or loss of balance and coordination
E = Eyes – sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
F = Face – sudden weakness of the face (Does one side of the face droop?)
A = Arm – weakness of an arm or leg
S = Speech – sudden difficulty speaking
T = Time – time the symptoms started

Strokes can happen at almost any age and that's why it's important for anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek emergency care immediately. However, risk factors for stroke include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. A person should also know their family history because genetic tendencies for stroke exist.

If you have stroke symptoms that only last a few minutes or hours, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Transient symptoms may mean that another stroke is likely to occur soon. People should still call 911 and come to the Emergency Department for rapid evaluation.

Intermountain Medical Center is home to one of the most sophisticated stroke centers in the Utah. A team of physicians, nurses and other caregivers treat more stroke patients than any other hospital in Utah and they are the only Joint Commission Comprehensive Stroke Center in the state, which means that the hospital can diagnose and treat the most complex type of stroke cases.

And thanks to telehealth services, Intermountain's TeleStroke Program helps ensure our patients experiencing stroke receive optimal treatment at any Intermountain hospital and even other partner hospitals in the intermountain west. Intermountain emergency department clinicians and other caregivers have the ability to consult real-time with a neurologist, even in smaller community hospitals. Intermountain's TeleStroke program currently serves over 30 hospitals in the intermountain west, including eight non-Intermountain hospitals and another working for implementation this summer.

The Intermountain team of specialists has developed protocols that shorten the amount of time it takes to diagnose and treat a stroke. This is important because a quick diagnosis and treatment can mean less long-term damage, less disability and better overall outcomes. Intermountain offers a full spectrum of specialized care that ranges from neuro critical care through acute care and into rehabilitation and outpatient therapy.

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.