ABOVE: CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson interviews Dr. Richard Klucznik about stroke symptoms and seeking help quickly.
When a person is having a stroke, every second counts. A stroke is when a blood clot or a rupture blocks a vessel, thus preventing blood from getting to the brain. When the blood supply to the brain is cut-off or diminished, millions of brain cells can die every minute.
Dr. Richard Klucznik, president of The Society of Neurointerventional Surgery told CBN News the sooner a person who’s having a stroke gets to the hospital, the less time it will take them to recover from loss of movement or speech, two common stroke outcomes.
Getting help soon can even make the difference between life and death. Strokes kill an estimated 140,000 Americans every year, making it the third leading cause of death for women and the fifth for men.
Dr. Klucznik said during this pandemic he and other stroke specialists are especially concerned people who may be having a stroke might not get the help they need soon enough if at all.
His organization produced public service messages in order to encourage anyone who might be having a stroke to overcome any hesitation to call 9-1-1 because of fear of possible exposure to the coronavirus.
“Don’t fear to call 9-1-1 because people like us, people who do thrombectomies, we’re here,” he said, “We gear up and we’re ready to handle patients who have potential COVID and maybe having a stroke,” he said.
Dr. Klucznik said another reason during this pandemic people who might be having a stroke may not get the help they need quickly enough is because people are more isolated now.
“Families, before the COVID epidemic, they’d be checking on each other,” he explained, adding, “When we’re told to stay away, there’s not that good network of people checking on each other.”
He said there are ways to social distance and still keep tabs on friends and family.
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“Check on them more,” he said, “Make more phone calls more frequently just to see if anything is going on.”
Klucznik said young adults with COVID-19 are reportedly having strokes. Doctors in New York and New Jersey, the two states with the highest number of reported infections, report patients in their thirties, and forties suffering strokes who also test positive for the virus.
“What we think is happening with the COVID virus is that it’s thickening peoples’ blood, in other words, it’s thrombogenic,” he said, “and there are some instances of people having clots in their lungs as well as forming clots in their brain. So young people may be affected just by that fact of the virus.”
Dr. Klocznik recommends thinking of the word, “FAST” to identify and respond to a stroke.
F=Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
A=Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
T=Time: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.