When it comes to stroke, timing is everything

A sudden onset of blurred vision, slurred speech, or numbness or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg can be indications of a stroke.

Many people experiencing these symptoms wait to seek help, but this can be a fatal mistake: The risks of permanent damage or death increase the longer treatment is delayed. In fact, six million people die and five million more become permanently disabled because of a stroke each year.

Nationally, the number of stroke deaths has declined, but in Kentucky, strokes are increasing. Yet stroke is a largely preventable disease: keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and/or diabetes in check can greatly reduce the risk.

When a stroke occurs, however, the most important factor is time.


Take preventive measures, know the symptoms and BE-FAST* if you suspect a stroke.

Conceptual image of a human head indicating dizziness.
Balance: Is the person having trouble walking? Loss of balance or coordination, dizziness.
Illustration of an eye.
Eyes: Is the person having trouble seeing? Change in vision in one or both eyes.
Silhouette of a woman's face.
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Illustration of an arm at rest beside a torso.
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
A conceptual illustration of a speech bubble, indicating speaking.
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
A conceptual image of a clock's face, indicating the passage of time.
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

*BE-FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Healthcare.

Stroke Care Network

The Stroke Care Network, a partnership between UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare, is an affiliation of 34 regional hospitals dedicated to the highest-quality stroke care. Based on extensive research, the Stroke Care Network has developed a system of care that provides prompt diagnosis and treatment to minimize the damage a stroke can cause.

A key step in stroke diagnosis is a computerized tomography (CT) scan to find bleeding in the brain or damage to the brain cells. Since 2015, the time it takes to get a CT scan read by doctors and begin a treatment plan has decreased from 52 minutes to 39 minutes in a Stroke Care Network hospital. Clot-busting medication may reduce long-term disability, but is only available within a few hours of the first symptom.

Next steps

Simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference in preventing a stroke. Here are six things you can do to help reduce your risk.