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Stroke: Time Matters

ER Stroke

What Can You Do in 15 Minutes?

Can you get showered and dressed for work or school? Can you boil some spaghetti for dinner? Can you get to the store before it closes?

Or can you act to save a loved one who might be having a stroke?

Nothing is more important than time when someone is suffering a stroke. The sooner someone gets medical attention, the better the chances of recovery. The more minutes that pass – even 15 minutes – the more likely the chance of brain injury, permanent disability, even death.

“It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke,” says Charles Emerman, MD, Chair of MetroHealth’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “If someone is showing symptoms, don’t wait to see if they’ll subside. We need to see them in the Emergency Department – the sooner the better.”  There are treatment options given in the ER that are more effective and only possible when patients arrive at the early onset of a stroke. 

Signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Tingling, numbness, weakness, or loss of movement in the face, arms or legs -- especially if it happens on only one side of the body.
  • A drooping face.
  • Loss of vision, double vision or blurry vision out of one or both eyes.
  • Confusion, difficulty in thinking or finding the right word, memory loss.
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking or understanding simple statements.
  • Severe headache with no apparent cause that feels different than other headaches.
  • Problems with coordination, balance and walking.

Experts have come up with an easy way to remember things during a possible stroke. It’s the FAST test:

F is for Face: Have the person smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A is for Arms: Raise both arms. Does one arm stay lower or drop down?

S is for Speech: Does the person have slurred or strange speech?

T is for Time: If the answer is yes to any of these questions, don’t delay. Call 911 right away.

“Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in America,” says Dr. Emerman. “The good news is that up to 80 percent of them are preventable.”

Talk to your MetroHealth primary care provider about lowering the risk factors for stroke, which include:

  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet or nutrition
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Sickle cell disease
  • circulation problems
  • carotid artery disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive alcohol use

MetroHealth’s renowned experts in emergency care are now closer to home, with 24-hour Emergency Departments in Brecksville, Cleveland (Main Campus), Cleveland Heights and Parma. Learn more about our Emergency Departments.