Precious time for stroke response

October 28, 2021

When it comes to stroke, minutes can save lives and loved ones.

“Our goal in working together to prevent and treat stroke is really to give people back those essential moments. This not only walking again, talking again, and eating again, as we used to focus on for a ‘good’ outcome. These moments are dancing, laughing, traveling, holding hands on an evening walk, and all those things that make life a good life,” says Stroke Services Medical Director Dr. Aleksander Tkach. “In a stroke every second counts. Every second we save by all working together to treat a stroke gives people back those moments in life that are precious.”

Most strokes are what’s called ischemic – a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or burst, preventing blood and the vital oxygen it carries from getting to the brain. Damage to the brain can occur almost immediately, as about 1.9 million brain cells die each minute from the lack of oxygen.

Less common hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds in the brain.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke, is an episode of stroke symptoms and an important warning sign of a higher risk of having a stroke. Although symptoms may disappear shortly after the TIA, it’s important to get immediate medical help.

Know the signs of a stroke/TIA:

  1. Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg (especially one side of the body)
  2. Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  3. Sudden change in vision
  4. Sudden change in the ability to walk
  5. There is usually no pain

If you experience or witness any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Quick treatment can help minimize damage and increase the chances of recovery.

“It is important to recognize that everything depends on early recognition and accessing care FAST. We can make a difference in recovery if we can intervene as soon as possible,” says Cory Bendall, Interior Health’s Stroke Network Director.

“Although stroke care has advanced with better imaging, medications, and procedures that can restore blood flow to the brain, we need each and every person to know the signs and take action.” 

Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day. To learn more about the causes of stroke, signs and symptoms, and prevention, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Stories@IH

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