BOISE, Idaho — Statistics show someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, totaling to about 800,000 people each year. May is Stroke Awareness Month, educating the public on ways to reduce stroke risk and the signs of stroke to look for.
Stephanie Shawver from St. Luke's says there is an easy way to remember what to do if you notice someone experiencing signs of a stroke. All you have to know is BE FAST.
"The 'B' stands for 'balance' so any sort of balance loss. 'E' stands for 'eyes' so any sort of visual loss in one or both eyes. The 'F' stands for 'facial droop' so have the person smile and if you see one side of the face kind of droop down, that's a good sign. 'A' stands for 'arms' so any sort of arm or leg weakness, and it's usually on one side of the body. The 'S' stands for 'speech' so any sort of a speech loss, maybe they come across as confused or not speaking at all or using funny words. The 'T' stands for 'time.' Stroke is very time sensitive so the T stands for time to call 911," explains Shawver.
Shawver works as the manager of the Stroke Program at St. Luke's. The program helps provide the best practices and evidence-based care for stroke patients and coordinates the multiple systems of care that a stroke patient needs.
"Stroke care can be very complex so this is a way for hospitals to organize the care of these patients to optimize their outcome and minimize disability from stroke," says Shawver.
Right now, COVID-19 has many people pushing off going to their primary care physician or even calling 911 in an emergency. Shawver says even in the middle of a pandemic, hospitals are well-prepared to provide the same stroke care they've always provided, now in a protective manner.
"I think the biggest fear is individuals afraid of catching COVID by heading to the hospital, but we have protected pathways and absolutely if you see any of those signs of stroke, 911 or report to the emergency room," says Shawver.
Not all strokes can be prevented but up to 80% could be by making simple lifestyle changes. That includes not smoking, making healthy food choices, getting enough physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and treating conditions like high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
For more information on stroke, click here.