Be Alert to Stroke Symptoms During Pandemic
Stroke does not take a vacation or care if a global health crisis is taking place. It can strike anyone at any time with no warning. Responding as quickly as possible to the signs of stroke, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can save lives.
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital neurologist Dr. Ruby Parveen urges Baytown area residents to learn about the symptoms and possible prevention of this potentially deadly condition; the third leading cause of death in the U.S. As a Gold Plus Primary Stroke Center, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital provides world-class, multidisciplinary stroke care to help patients achieve the best possible long-term outcomes.
“One in 12 stroke patients is likely to have another stroke soon after the initial attack,” said Parveen. “But research shows that patients experience better outcomes when taken to hospitals that are stroke centers because these centers follow specific, evidence-based treatment practices. In addition to how fast you get care, where you go can make a difference.”
According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is shut off by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Lacking an adequate blood supply, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Because early intervention can make all the difference, getting immediate medical care by calling 911 is absolutely crucial if you or someone you know shows symptoms of a stroke.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association “Get with the Guidelines” stroke program helps to ensure consistent, evidence-based stroke care. The guidelines promote such practices as performing brain imaging quickly; administering the clot-dissolving medication called recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) within three hours from the onset of ischemic stroke symptoms; administering anti-platelet or anticoagulant medications at prescribed intervals; risk factor management including high cholesterol; educating patients and caregivers about stroke prevention and warning signs; providing smokers with smoking cessation information; initiating stroke rehabilitation referrals and screening stroke patients for swallowing problems.
If you think someone might be having a stroke, remember the “F.A.S.T” test from the National Stroke Association:
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
Time: If a person shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Carefully note the time when the first symptoms appeared. This information is critical for treatment decisions.
After a stroke, rehabilitative therapy—which generally begins within 24 to 48 hours after the stroke— is needed to help survivors relearn skills that may have been lost.
"Following a stroke, successful rehabilitation depends on how early rehabilitation begins, the extent of the brain injury, the support of family and friends and the rehab team’s skill,” Parveen said. “For survivors, the importance of maintaining a positive attitude should not be overlooked. It is essential.”
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital’s stroke care team includes physicians, rehabilitation nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and vocational therapists.
Houston Methodist Baytown Ensures Patient Safety
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has implemented the following enhanced safety measures in all of its doctors’ offices and clinics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the health and wellbeing of our patients:
- Screening all patients when scheduling appointments for symptoms and exposure risk
- Minimizing the number of patients we are seeing per day in our clinics by expanding virtual services and staggering in-person appointments
- Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended testing for our employees
- Screening all patients upon arrival with temperature checks and an exposure questionnaire
- Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care
- Reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing
- Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces
To learn more about stroke care and stroke rehabilitation at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, call 832.556.6535, or visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown.
About Houston Methodist Baytown HospitalHouston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and east Harris, Liberty and Chambers counties with quality medical care since opening its doors in 1948. The hospital has grown throughout the years with the community, providing comprehensive care at all stages of life. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides some of the most advanced and innovative procedures while never wavering from its focus on compassionate and patient-centered care. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.