‘When in doubt, check it out!’ reminder for stroke victims

A new care system for possible stroke victims has been implemented in Pierce County. Firefighters, paramedics, 911 operators and area hospitals are reinforcing the theory that timing is essential for the survival and recovery of stroke patients.

A stroke is the result of ruptured blood vessels in the brain. When a portion of the brain doesn’t receive oxygenated blood, the cells in that area begin to die. Each year 795,000 people are affected by strokes and 140,000 of those cases are fatal, according to East Pierce Fire and Rescue.

The FDA-approved drug tPA has proven to be effective in treating strokes if administered within three hours of onset. Physicians are also able to perform other treatments, which involve opening the blood vessels with thin wires.

Designated stroke hospitals are capable of providing accurate diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. First responders and 911 operators are trained to recognize the possibility of a stroke and direct those cases to a hospital which can treat the patient properly. When treated promptly, the effects of a stroke can be greatly reduced. However, this can’t happen if the patient doesn’t seek help immediately.

“When in doubt – check it out!” is the reminder used by East Pierce and to err on the side of caution.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue lists the following stroke symptoms:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and

• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Swift action and accurate recount of events is crucial to minimizing the effects of a stroke. If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek help immediately.


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