When It Comes To Stroke, It’s OK to Overreact
By Judy Mazak, RN, Emergency Dept. Director and Stroke Program Manager for Cuero Regional Hospital
Cuero Health joins the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association in recognizing American Stroke Month. Treatment for stroke including the IV medication Alteplase (r-tPA) and endovascular procedures are highly time-dependent. Immediate treatment can in many cases minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and save lives. “Quick treatment can be the deciding factor between recovery and disability. When it comes to stroke, it’s O.K. to overreact,” said Judy Mazak, RN, the Emergency Department Director and Stroke Program Manager for Cuero Regional Hospital.
Stroke affects more than 795,000 people in the United States every year.1 Also known as a “brain attack,” a stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is blocked by plaque (acute ischemic stroke) or ruptures and bleeds (hemorrhagic stroke).2 If you suspect stroke, call 911 immediately.
The saying “time is brain” references the importance of receiving immediate medical attention for a stroke before it starts affecting brain function. Stroke is serious; quick treatment can be the deciding factor between recovery and disability.2
How to Recognize Stroke
Would you or your loved ones know what to do in the event of a stroke?
It’s important to recognize all the ways in which stroke can present itself to
be best prepared in the case of a medical emergency as the symptoms don’t
always appear the same in every person. Many people may be familiar with the
F.A.S.T. signs of stroke, but could you recognize all 10 signs?
Knowing the 10 signs and symptoms of stroke could make all the difference for a loved one.
- Difficulty Understanding
- Loss of Balance
- Severe Headache
- Trouble Speaking
- Trouble Walking
- Vision Changes
As with most symptoms, these are not unique to stroke but if they appear quickly and are out of the ordinary, they may indicate a serious condition that requires immediate attention. If you recognize any combination of these signs, it’s okay to “overreact.” Suspicion is enough reason to take action and call 911. Do not wait for symptoms to subside. The right care—right away— has the potential to save both lives and quality of life.4
Who Is At Risk?
While a stroke can happen to anyone at any time, certain factors can place your loved ones at an increased risk of having a stroke.5 One of the best ways to protect them from stroke is to know their risks and do what you can do to help reduce them.
While you can’t control age or family history, there are many manageable risk factors that can lower your loved one’s chances of stroke. Some healthy life choices that decrease risk include:
- Not smoking or using tobacco products
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly.6
To learn more about stroke and how to recognize all 10 signs and symptoms,
- Stroke Facts. Retrieved March 23, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm
- Stroke 101: Fast Facts on Stroke. Retrieved March 23, 2018 from
- Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved March 22, 2018 from
- About Stroke Treatment. Retrieved March, 26, 2018 from
- What is Stroke? Retrieved March 23, 2018 from http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke
- Behaviors That Increase Risk for Stroke. Retrieved April 3, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/behavior.htm