Sudden facial drooping. Weakness on one side of the body. Slurred speech. It’s a stroke, a brain attack, and time is of the essence. But for now, let’s use our brains to store a few things.
1. Stroke is not just for old people.
You actually need to get the “it’s for old people” notion out of your head. More and more we are seeing stroke happen in younger individuals. Nationally, 34% of strokes occur in people under age 65. At Herrin Hospital alone, 50% of our patients last year were under the age of 65.
2. No matter what age, learn the symptoms.
Typically, it’s the bystander who notices someone is having a stroke. This is your chance to save a life! So teach your kids even, how to spot one. Need an acronym to help you remember? Try FAST.
- Facial drooping
- Arm or Leg weakness
- Slurred speech
- Time-note the time of the first symptom and call 911
3. We’re serious. Make the call to 911. Do not drive.
Even if the symptoms go away shortly. Any one of these symptoms should prompt a call to 911. With stroke, there is a very brief window when we can halt brain damage caused by stroke. The call to 911 activates more than the ambulance crew. It’s activating hospital staff and doctors of the SIH Brain & Spine Institute’s Stroke Network.
4. Being experts at stroke isn’t automatic at every hospital.
Recently Herrin Hospital joined the ranks of its sister hospital in Carbondale as a Primary Stroke Center–a fancy way of saying that we follow the same protocols of nationally-recognized stroke programs and we have the numbers and outcomes to prove it—so says the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission.
In 2012 SIH realized a significant deficiency in stroke care for our region and set out to make a change that would really impact some lives. Stroke in southern Illinois used to mean a stop at a local hospital with a quick flight to St. Louis. Not anymore. With some key neurologists, stroke care coordination and nurses with some intense training, we can better stop stroke and prevent the serious after-effects.
5. We’re spreading the love.
To really help all southern Illinoisans, we have to spread it beyond the walls of SIH’s Primary Stroke Centers. The system in place lends itself to have “stroke outposts.” Our own St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro and now Harrisburg Medical Center have joined the Stroke Network. With training from SIH’s stroke coordinator, they stand ready for stroke patients in and around their community. For most strokes, they can deliver treatment right in their own emergency rooms