According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds, somebody in the United States has a stroke, and every four minutes somebody dies from a stroke. So, knowing what to do if you or a loved one is having a stroke is important. That’s why May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Dr. Robert Suter, who is the Medical Director of CCMH’s Stroke Program, said a stroke happens when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery leading to the brain.

“Stroke has become a very treatable problem, but only if treated immediately,” Suter said. “So, you cannot just wonder, think, ‘Are they having a stroke? Are they not having a stroke? What should I do?’ If there is any chance, they’re having a stroke call 911.”

If you don’t know what the symptoms are, try to remember this acronym. FAST. It stands for: Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. If someone is having a stroke, you may notice drooping in the face, arm weakness, and slurred or strange speech. Remember that time is important, so call 911.

“There are some unusual causes of stroke that may not present with all those symptoms, so really, anyone who has any sort of unexplained confusion, or anything out of the ordinary that’s not explained by any other cause should really be thinking ‘could they be having a stroke?’ and bring them to the hospital for us to figure it out,” he said.

Dr. Suter said people still need to go to the ER despite COVID-19. Dr. Suter said hospitals everywhere are taking precautions to try to protect you from being exposed to the coronavirus.

“Stroke is far deadlier if you’re having one than being exposed to COVID,” he said. “There is no comparison at all, so if you think that you or your loved one is having a stroke, you need to get to the hospital to have your stroke treated.”

He said it’s important to go to the hospital because the clot-buster medicine they use has to be given within 4 1/2 hours after someone starts showing symptoms.

“Every 15 minutes delay in TPA administration makes a huge difference in how the patient does and whether they need extensive rehab or if they go back to normal,” he said.