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Proper steps to take when someone encounters a stroke

Time is crucial when it comes to stroke care.

When someone begins to see signs and symptoms of a stroke, time is critical when it comes to getting them the treatment they need.

"Taking care of a patient with a stroke is an extremely time sensitive process. We want to take care of patients as quickly as possible as soon as they start to have symptoms," says Dr. Joe Liewer, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Mercy Medical Center.

It all starts with knowing what those signs and symptoms are.

The most common symptoms to look for with a stroke include facial drooping, arm weakness on one side of the body, and speech problems. Other identified symptoms include a loss of balance and changes in vision.

Doctors and stroke coordinators use the acronym "BE FAST" to include all the symptoms, but also to stress how important time is when treating a stroke.

"Every minute your brain is dying, so we're trying to spare time to spare your brain," says Nicole Shea, Stroke Program Manager for Mercy Medical Center. "So it's so vital that you get into the emergency room right away."

If someone is having a stroke, it is crucial they do not drive themselves to a hospital.

"If you come by ambulance, they can call us ahead of time and say we have a patient who has these symptoms and the last time they were okay," says Shea.

"We have a window of opportunity to give the medication to try to break up the clot that may be causing the stroke, so we really need to see and evaluate the patient and get some tests done within the first three to four hours of the patient having the symptoms," says Liewer.

Knowing when these symptoms start is vitally important when it comes to what plan of treatment doctors pursue.

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