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Your Healthy Family: Do you know the early signs of a stroke and exactly what to do?

Posted at 10:22 AM, Mar 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-31 13:14:23-04

Disclaimer: This is sponsored content. All opinions and views are of UCHealth and does not reflect the same of KOAA.

In this Your Healthy Family, I’m following up on last week’s story about the updated medication protocols for UCHealth when it comes to treating ischemic strokes, which is stroke caused by a blood clot blocking or narrowing an artery that carries critical blood to the brain.

One of the biggest reasons for the switch to TNK, from tPA is it’s simply faster to administer because it comes in a single dose instead of an initial dose, followed by an IV infusion that could take up to an hour.

Hopefully, you know that time is one of the critical steps in responding to the symptoms of a stroke. However, it’s only 1 and the more important question is do you know all of the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke? It’s as simple as knowing the acronym BE FAST.

David Ornelas is an RN and the manager UCHealth's mobile stroke unit and he says, “We have to BE FAST. You want to look for any balance issues, that’s B. E is going to be for any visual disturbances or problems with your eyesight like double vision, blurry vision, blindness, or any sudden changes in your vision. F is for face facial drooping on one side things like one side is not working. If we ask the patient to smile and one side works and the other side doesn't that's a pretty clear indicator of a stroke. A is for arms, so things like arm weakness are on one side of the body. It could be in the arm or the legs, so we have them put their arms out. S is for speech, so we want to know is the patient slurring their speech? Do they sound drunk or are they just not making any sense - sort of a word salad. We will ask for some simple directions and if they're not able to give that back to us then that’s another sign. Finally, the T is the big one, and that’s for time, time to call 9-1-1.”

When you’re suffering a stroke getting treatment fast is the biggest key to having the possibility of a positive recovery. Calling 9-1-1 is always you’re best choice, even if you are right across the street from the hospital.

David explains, “The ambulance gets care started faster than actually driving yourself to the emergency room. You'll get dedicated providers looking at you at your house right away, giving treatments, and then what they can do is also actually alert the hospital before they even leave your house. So that’s shaving off 1, 2, 3, 5, or 6 minutes from transport time to the hospital, and they're alerting all of the hospital staff. Most hospitals have a stroke alert process so if the ambulance calls in and says I have a patient who's exhibiting X-Y&Z stroke symptoms, they can alert the CAT scan, they can alert the physicians, they can start mixing the medication right away if it hasn’t already been given. They can get all of those things going before the patient actually arrives at the hospital.

UCHealth  Memorial Hospital is a certified stroke treatment center, the only one in Southern Colorado, and also has a mobile stroke treatment unit that has been splitting time between the Denver and Colorado Springs market, but that’s about to change and I’ll have more on that in a coming story.

UCHealth  is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family