When Stroke Strikes, Time Matters

In early August, David, a 59-year-old subcontractor from South Carolina, was talking with a co-worker at a construction site when suddenly his right hand started curling up. At first, he thought it was just muscle cramps from working outdoors in the heat. But then his right arm went limp and his right leg “turned to rubber.” He realized something was very wrong. “I never experienced a feeling like this before, and I knew we had to do something right away.”

David was experiencing a stroke. And when it comes to stroke, time is everything – even in the age of COVID-19.

Time is critical when you’re having a stroke.

“I was very aware of the public anxiety over going to a hospital that may be filled with infectious coronavirus patients.” A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that Emergency Room visits to five major healthcare systems had decreased by more than 40 percent as COVID-19 cases spiked. But David decided to take immediate action. “Time is critical when you’re having a stroke,” he says.

When he arrived at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, the staff was immediately mobilized by a “stroke alert.” David was evaluated via tele-neurology by experts at the Medical University of South Carolina over 150 miles away. Doctors confirmed that he was experiencing a stroke and immediately started treatment.

“I’ve never been more impressed than with the experience I had at the hospital,” says David. “As soon as I got there, I was reassured by the COVID-19 precautions that were in place to protect patients like me.”

David had some additional scans and then was taken to the ICU, where he was monitored constantly for 24 hours. The next day he was discharged home.

Thinking back on his recent experience, David credits himself with recognizing one of the classic symptoms of stroke – arm and leg weakness – and reacting rapidly. According to a nationwide survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults, only one in five are able to recognize 10 signs and symptoms of a stroke. Nearly 70 percent of the survey respondents say they are knowledgeable about stroke, yet 62 percent falsely believe that the signs of stroke come on slowly over a day or two. In fact, signs of stroke may come on suddenly and require immediate medical attention.

Every year 800,000 Americans have a stroke, and it can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. Everyone should learn and be able to recognize the BE FAST signs and symptoms of a stroke.

“If I ever have symptoms like this again, I will not hesitate to call 911 and get myself to the ER immediately,” says David. “And I would encourage everyone else to do the same, even during a global health pandemic. Don’t ignore the warning signs, take action quickly.”

When it comes to stroke, BE FAST and call 911. Learn more about stroke by visiting StrokeAwareness.com.