Dr. Chris Burke, the Chair of Neurology at Rochester General Hospital, discussed the signs of stroke and the steps you can take to prevent one Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“Depending on where the stroke gets us in our brain will kind of dictate the nature of our symptoms,” Dr. Burke explained. “But we have an acronym that people should remember, and this captures the major signs of stroke – and that’s FAST. ‘F’ stands for face, so a droopy face. ‘A’ stands for arm, which is a weak, or numb arm. ‘S’ stands for speech, so patients might have difficulty getting words out, or the words that come out slurred. And the finally, the ‘T’ at the end stands for time, which means that if you have one of those symptoms, you don’t have much time. Call 9-1-1. Get to the hospital.”
It’s critically important to act quickly if you believe you are suffering a stroke. “Only 15 to 20 percent of our patients will arrive in a fashion to our emergency rooms where we can intervene on them,” said Dr. Burke. “Many, many patients fail to come into the emergency room, hoping that the symptoms will go away, thinking that it might be something else. As a consequence, they miss this very short window that we have for intervening on their stroke and trying to stop it before it gets worse.”
Dr. Burke said when it comes to stroke, there are steps we all can take to help prevent one. “To reiterate, a very small proportion of us are going to qualify for some intervention. Most of us are going to live with what happened within that stroke. But if we understand that stroke for most of us is a wholly preventable disease state, and things like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, the things we know we need to get under control, if we take control of those risk factors. We can significantly reduce our risk of stroke.”
He added, “Consult with your physician of the 10 risk factors that we have associated with stroke. Five of them are medical, but the other thing to understand is that five of them are lifestyle modifications, so these are things that your doctor is not going to do for you – things like smoking, heavy alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary choices. These are the things that you can start today to lower your risk of stroke.”
For more information from Rochester Regional Health, drop this link into your browser: https://www.rochesterregional.org/services/neurosciences/stroke-centers/