Stroke month: Understanding risks and the importance of urgency

Published 3:15 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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By Dr. Larry Goldstein

UK Healthcare


As May comes to a close and we wrap up stroke awareness month, it is a great time to prioritize health by participating in stroke risk screenings. These assessments offer invaluable insights into personal health profiles, enabling individuals to address potential risk factors head-on. Through simple measures such as monitoring blood pressure, measuring cholesterol levels, and adopting healthier lifestyle choices, individuals have the opportunity to dramatically reduce their susceptibility to stroke. Whether accessed online, in public programs, or through primary care providers, these screenings can provide proactive steps towards a healthier future.

 As we delve deeper into stroke awareness, it’s imperative to familiarize ourselves with the BE FAST acronym. Regardless of your age, it is important to know the symptoms of stroke, and to call 911 immediately if you think you or someone else is having a stroke. The acronym BE FAST can help remember some of the more common symptoms of stroke, and it helps remind you to act fast by calling 911 immediately. BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association.

BE FAST stands for a sudden onset of problems with Balance or leg weakness, problems with the Eyes such as visual loss or double vision, Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech that is slurred or otherwise changed- Time – the need to call 911 immediately). It is also important to know which hospitals in the area are stroke certified. A hospital may be designated as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, a Primary Stroke Center, a Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center, or the most advanced certification of a Comprehensive Stroke Center. To receive or maintain a given  certification, institutions must achieve and keep up specific criteria that are externally reviewed. Remember, if a stroke does occur, time is essential.  Do not ignore the symptoms – you or a loved one may be spared permanent disability by acting quickly.

Avoiding or delaying seeking emergent help can have drastic consequences because effective stroke treatments are available, but need to be started soon after symptoms begin.  It is important not to dismiss even transient symptoms because they are a warning that a major stroke may occur over the next hours or days.

May’s spotlight on stroke awareness serves as a reminder of the importance of proactive healthcare measures. By embracing stroke risk screenings, familiarizing oneself with stroke symptoms, and recognizing the role of certified stroke centers, individuals can take meaningful steps towards safeguarding their health and well-being against the potentially devastating effects of stroke. Let us prioritize our health this month and beyond, empowering ourselves and our communities to act swiftly and decisively in the face of stroke risk.