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When it comes to stroke, timing is everything

Emergency care team moving patient on gurney.

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.

  • BE-FAST

    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.