May is stroke awareness month and during the COVID-19 pandemic neurologists are reminding people if they have any signs of stroke to seek medical attention immediately.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the number of people evaluated for signs of stroke has dropped nearly 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study analyzed stroke evaluations at more than 800 hospitals across the United States and is a troubling indication that many people who experience strokes may not be seeking potentially life-saving medical care.
Intermountain Healthcare has gone to great lengths to make sure hospitals and clinics are safe and sanitary for anyone who comes to seek treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic doctors have seen cases of patients waiting too long to seek lifesaving treatment. When it comes to a stroke, “time lost equals brain lost.” The more rapidly we’re able to recognize a stroke and provide interventions to restore blood flow, the more likely the patient is to have a positive outcome.
May is stroke awareness month and neurologists want to remind people to know the signs of a stroke and to never delay treatment. Around 32,000 brain cells die every second during a stroke and if someone waits too long irreversible damage can be done.
Each year there are more than 795,000 strokes in the U.S. Every 40 seconds, someone has one, and every four minutes, someone dies from a stroke. If you’re having a stroke, your best chance at recovery is to have a fast response time. The sooner you get to the hospital and receive the proper treatment the better chances of survival.
Back on December 12th, 21-year-old Celes Snedeger began having a stroke at her home in St. George. Around 9 p.m. Celes fell and her boyfriend came to help her. That’s when he noticed half her face was drooping and he told Celes it was probably a stroke. Celes said she was fine, but her boyfriend called 911 and the dispatcher suggested Celes lift both her arms above her head. When she couldn’t that’s when her boyfriend rushed her to the emergency room at Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Due to the late hour there were no neurologists in the emergency department at the time. So, caregivers used Intermountain’s TeleHealth Stroke program to call Neurologist Shawn Smith who was working at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. Using the telehealth video system he was able to work with caregivers to quickly diagnose the problem. Dr. Smith ordered a CT scan which revealed a blood clot in Celes’ brain and caregivers then treated it with clot busting medication. From the time Celes walked into the ER to the time the drug was administered only took 41 minutes.
Intermountain Healthcare uses telehealth to bring specialized medicine and expertise to 24 hospitals both in and out of the Intermountain network. For most hospitals and clinics, it’s not cost effective to have a specialist on hand at all times, but using telehealth ensures they have access to one when needed. Neurologist are available 24/7 to Intermountain hospitals and clinics using the TeleHealth Stroke program.
Know the signs of stroke:
About 40 percent of people in the United States can’t identify at least one of the symptoms. A good way to remember the signs of stroke is by using the acronym BE FAST.
B = Balance – sudden dizziness or loss of balance and coordination
E = Eyes – sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
F = Face – sudden weakness of the face (Does one side of the face droop?)
A = Arm – weakness of an arm or leg
S = Speech – sudden difficulty speaking
T = Time – time the symptoms started
Neurologist remind people that strokes can happen at almost any age and that’s why it’s important for anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek emergency care immediately. However, strong risk factors of a stroke include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. You should also know your family history and the type of stroke any family members have suffered.
If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 immediately. If you have stroke like symptoms, but they go away, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is an indicator that you are likely to have a full stroke in the near future. Do not ignore a TIA- head to the Emergency Department or call our outpatient neurologists right away.