Know the signs. Call 9-1-1 immediately

During a stroke, your brain isn’t getting the blood and oxygen it needs. Every minute a stroke goes untreated, 2 million brain cells are lost forever, which can mean losing your ability to speak or walk – or worse. Time lost is brain lost. Calling 9-1-1 at the first sign of a stroke is the fastest way to get treated. Recognize the signs of stroke, act fast and save a life.

Remembering the acronym BE FAST is the simplest way to identify a stroke.

  • Balance: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
  • Eyes: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
  • Arm weakness: Can both arms be held up without one of them dropping down?
  • Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or not understandable?
  • Time: Note when the stroke symptoms began.

If you spot ANY of these symptoms, call 9-1-1. Emergency transport is the fastest route to treatment.

How much do you know about stroke? Take the quiz to test your knowledge!

Sudden trouble walking is a sign of a stroke.

If stroke symptoms suddenly stop, I don't need to call 911.

Stroke only affects our older population.

Some strokes can be prevented.

Experiencing a stroke? Call 9-1-1. Don't drive yourself.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting stroke symptoms, do not drive to the emergency room yourself. You may think this will get you to the hospital more quickly than waiting for an ambulance to arrive, but this can actually take longer to get the care you need. Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get treated.

The emergency transport crew can notify the nearest OSF HealthCare hospital to prepare for your arrival, saving you precious minutes. The specialty stroke care needed is ready when you arrive, and the emergency department knows immediately how to respond.

Do you know how to test if somebody is having a stroke? Click each letter to find out.


Know Your Care Options

You should never ignore stroke symptoms. If you or someone else is having stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately, even if the symptoms suddenly stop. Effectively treating and recovering from stroke requires swift action and emergency care.

OSF HealthCare is committed to providing expert stroke care throughout our Ministry. Our multidisciplinary stroke teams are always prepared to provide fast, effective care the moment you arrive to any of our hospitals.

Our stroke centers have a Comprehensive, Primary or Acute Stroke-Ready designation. Primary Stroke Centers have designated stroke units. Acute Stroke-Ready Centers administer tPA to eligible patients and have stroke experts onsite or via TeleHealth, which connects doctors and patients through the use of digital technology, 24/7. You can also feel confident knowing all of our hospitals are connected to a Comprehensive Stroke Center offering the highest level of care.

> Learn more about a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Comprehensive Stroke Center certification recognizes hospitals that meet standards to treat the most complex stroke cases.

  • Ability to treat all types of strokes, with every known treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Highly trained, highly specialized care team
  • Advanced imaging capabilities

Patients from any OSF stroke center benefit from access to our Comprehensive Stroke Center.

> Review our available treatment options.
  • Intravenous t-PA: If the stroke symptoms started less than three hours ago, the doctors may administer a "clot busting" drug called t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator). This drug may be successful in dissolving the blockage in the brain artery.
  • Intra-arterial Interventions: If the stroke symptoms started less than 6 hours ago, highly trained doctors called neuro interventional surgeons can place a catheter in the brain arteries to look for the blockage and administer the "clot busting" medication directly at the site of the blockage or remove the clot from the artery with mechanical devices.
  • Aneurysm Clipping: Surgery that cuts off the blood flow into an aneurysm. Under general anesthesia, a section of the skull is removed and the aneurysm is located. A neurosurgeon uses a microscope to isolate the blood vessel with the aneurysm and places a small, metal, clothespin-like clip on the aneurysm's neck, halting its blood supply. The clip remains in the person and prevents the risk of future bleeding from the aneurysm. The piece of the skull is then replaced and the scalp is closed.
  • Endovascular Embolization/Aneurysm Coiling: Under general anesthesia, a neuro interventional surgeon inserts a hollow plastic tube (a catheter) into an artery (usually in the groin) and threads it using angiography through the body to the site of the aneurysm. Using a guided wire, detachable coils (spirals of platinum wire) are passed through the catheter and released inside the aneurysm. The coils fill the aneurysm, block it from circulation, and cause the blood to clot within the aneurysm, which effectively destroys the aneurysm. An angiogram will be repeated several times over a person's life to monitor the aneurysm and coils. (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2010)


    Know the Risks

    While risk of stroke increases with age, it can affect anyone at any age. You must be prepared to recognize the signs of a stroke. Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Up to 80 percent of strokes could be prevented by controlling conditions that put you at higher risk.

    If you have any of the following risk factors, you are at a higher risk for stroke:

    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Atrial fibrillation – irregular heartbeat
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Sleep apnea

    Talk with your doctor about how to manage these conditions and lower your risk.