Spectrum Health educates on signs of stroke

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — According to the American Stroke Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.

On this World Stroke Day, Spectrum Health is helping educate the public on warning signs and how critical it is to act FAST.

That acronym is used to describe warning signs:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time

Time signifies the importance of responding to these warning signs and calling 911.

“It’s very important for patients to get diagnosed, recognized early and brought in for treatment for their stroke,” Dr. Paul Mazaris told News 8. “Less than 10 years ago, there was no treatment for stroke other than medication. Now there’s a surgical procedure that actually improves outcomes and saves lives.”

Mazaris and Dr. Justin Singer, the director of vascular neurosurgery at Spectrum Health, see patients who missed warning signs or didn’t respond quickly enough.

“There’s a little bit of a diagnostic dilemma and an educational dilemma for the community. The reality is many strokes are preventable or reversible if they get to us in time,” Singer said. “We are the largest stroke center in Michigan and the largest comprehensive stroke center in the state and one of the largest in the Midwest. We can help you. You just need to get here.”

Another important aspect of preventing disability from a stroke is recognizing all ages can be impacted.

A new study released by the American Stroke Association earlier this week found one in three young adults don’t know the warning signs of a stroke.

But adults ages 18 to 45-years-old account for as many as 15% of stroke patients in the United States each year, according to the association.

While that statistic may seem small, it’s higher than the perception many have that strokes only impact the elderly.

The key takeaway: take warning signs seriously.

“When you think about if someone has chest pain, everyone knows to take aspirin and call 911 or go to the hospital. It could be a heart attack. People will be paralyzed on one side of their body and not think to get help quickly for that and go to bed, hoping it’ll be gone the next day,” Singer said. “Knowing those signs is very, very important.”