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Warning signs that you're having a stroke — and why it's so important to seek timely care
Health At Every Age

Warning signs that you're having a stroke — and why it's so important to seek timely care

By Balaji Krishnaiah, MD, Stroke neurologist | Comprehensive Stroke Center at Methodist University Hospital
Posted: June 8, 2020

When it comes to a stroke, every second counts. Prompt action can prevent further damage to the brain and help someone make a full recovery.

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

To remember the signs of a stroke, think BE FAST:

B:  Balance –– Sudden loss of balance.
E:  Eyes –– Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.

F:  Face –– Sudden weakness on one side of the face.
A:  Arm –– Sudden weakness in one arm or leg.
S:  Speech –– Sudden loss of speech.
T:  Time to call 911 if even one of these problems is new.

What should I do if I’m experiencing these symptoms?

If you are experiencing these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. If possible, let them know if you tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have a pending test. The quicker you act, the less likely you are to have long-term effects. 

I think a family member had a stroke, but I’m not sure. What should I do?

Especially in times of isolation, social distancing and wearing face coverings, it might be difficult to immediately notice the stroke warning signs in others. It is even more important to check in with your family members and friends.

One the phone or via Zoom, listen to their speech – is it slurred? Are they having trouble forming words? Do you notice a drop in one side of their face? Are they complaining of trouble seeing or double vision?

These are all things we can notice in others, and then we can act by calling 9-1-1.

Why is it so important to seek stroke treatment quickly?


If you are having a stroke, it is really important that you get immediate medical attention. The typical patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute in which stroke is untreated. The longer the brain is devoid of oxygen (from a clot), the greater the chances of irreversible injury.

Clot-busting drugs need to be administered within a certain time frame of the onset of symptoms. But if a stroke is caused by a larger clot, a special procedure called mechanical thrombectomy may also be needed.

The most important stroke treatment is TIME.


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What can happen if I don’t seek treatment?

The brain controls different functions including but not limited to emotion, thoughts, memory, speech, vision, balance, movements of arms, and legs. A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected.

Complications can lead to paralysis, difficulty talking or swallowing, loss of vision, memory loss, emotional disturbances, and in its severity could lead to death.

If you are experiencing stroke warning signs, the quicker you can get to the hospital, the better outcomes you will have, including shorter recovery time, minimal long-term effects and even prevent death..

How safe is it to come to a hospital or facility and seek treatment?

We’re doing everything we can to keep you safe and healthy while you’re in our care because we want you to seek care at any point should the need arise. We stand ready to help you.

As COVID-19 remains present in our community, we’re embracing new ways to care for you. We screen every single person as they walk into an MLH facility. We ask questions that indicate risk factors regarding COVID-19 and we also take everyone’s temperature. Every staff member at MLH wears a face mask, regardless of whether they see patients or not.

Our providers wear appropriate PPE and follow strict guidelines for hand washing and sterilization of facilities and equipment. We’re following all the best practices for what is safe for everyone involved.

While increasing evidence linking COVID-19 and stroke, it is more important than ever to call 9-1-1 if you have experienced any of the above mentioned symptoms. We are here to serve you and take care of you!

Do you have questions for our neurology and neurosurgery specialists?

The Methodist Neuroscience Institute offers expert neurological care and neurosurgery for a variety of conditions that relate to the nervous system.

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