Learn stroke warning signs

Nurse assessing stroke patient by raising arms

By Kelsey Guthmiller, Trauma Program Manager, Riverwood Healthcare Center

Strokes can happen to anyone, at any age. In fact, globally about one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. Yet, most adults in the U.S. don’t know the warning signs of a stroke, which is largely preventable and treatable.

Use the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. for recognizing a stroke:

B – Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance

E – Eyes: Check for vision loss

F – Face: Look for an uneven smile

A – Arm: Check if one arm is weak

S – Speech: Listen for slurred speech

T – Time: Call 9-1-1 right away

Riverwood Healthcare Center is a designated as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, meeting high standards of care for the initial treatment of stroke patients when quick action and proper medication can save lives and limit the long-term disabling effects of a stroke.

“When a stroke patient arrives at our emergency department, our staff can provide immediate care for strokes, including life-saving medications, and then transport the patient to a primary or comprehensive stroke center,” said Kelsey Guthmiller, RN, Trauma Program Manager at Riverwood. “The most important thing to remember is to get the person having a stroke medical care right away.”

Who is most at risk?
There are many risk factors for stroke—some you can manage and some that are out of your control.

Risk factors that cannot be changed include:
Age: Stroke can occur at any age; one out of five people who have a stroke are under 55 and your chance of stroke increases as you get older.
Race:  African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders have a higher risk of stroke than people of other races
Gender: More women have stroke than men and more women die from stroke than from breast cancer every year.
Family history: You are at greater risk if a family member has had a stroke.

Manageable risk factors include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, poor circulation, lack of physical activity, and obesity.

Remember, a stroke is a medical emergency! Call 9-1-1 immediately when you discover someone who is having stroke symptoms.