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Healthy Living

Calling EMS When There are Signs of a Stroke

May 16 2022

Not only is this week EMS Week, the month of May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Thus, it is the perfect time to discuss the importance of calling EMS right away if you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing signs of a stroke.

“Recognizing the signs of a stroke is critical but can be difficult to determine,” Islam Tafish, MD, (pictured above, right) and interventional neurosurgeon at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center. “However, anyone having a stroke or witnessing a friend or family member having symptoms of a stroke should call 911 for EMS response immediately.”

As with anything else, knowledge is power.

Becoming familiar with the symptoms of a stroke now can help you spot one when it’s happening.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Confusion
  • Numbness, paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • Dizziness
  • Issues with coordination
  • Headache
  • Difficulty seeing

During a stroke, time is of the essence. Nearly two million neurons are lost during each minute of a stroke. And, according to a recent research study, the brain can lose as many neurons as it does in about 3.6 years of normal aging during each hour a stroke goes untreated.

Thus, the earlier 911 is called, the better. 

Fire and EMS responders are trained in the care of stroke patients and can immediately start treatments upon arrival with the patient. Additionally, you don’t want to drive yourself to a hospital because your stroke symptoms could worsen and impair your ability to drive safely.

“St. Rita’s works closely with all area fire and EMS partners in the care of stroke patients,” Brian Anderson, BS, NRP, CMTE, EMS coordinator, shares. “If EMS is called and suspects a stroke, not only can they start important patient assessment, but they can also activate a STROKE ALERT at St. Rita’s, which activates our stroke team and response prior to the patient even getting to the hospital. This process can help to save vital time-to-treatment of the stroke patient, thereby saving neurons and brain tissue.”

Mercy Health offers top stroke care and is the recipient of the American Association of Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) certificate. This certification is a recognition of Mercy Health – St. Rita Medical Center’s commitment to improving the quality of life of patients by enhancing standards of care.

Learn more about strokes as well as the stroke care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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