Crow Wing Energized: May is stroke awareness month: Know Stroke and BEFAST

Stroke treatment is time sensitive. The “clot-busting” medication that dissolves the clot causing the stroke and restoring blood flow to the brain tissue has a small-time window of only a few hours.


It’s like every other morning, you are getting ready for work along with the rest of the family getting ready for work, school, etc.

Suddenly, as you are eating breakfast with your significant other you notice she/he is talking funny and her/his face looks lopsided. What is happening? What do you do now?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain becomes blocked or ruptures. This event causes a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the vital brain tissue. With decreased blood flow and oxygen, the brain tissue quickly dies leading to long term disabilities and possibly death.

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Stroke can happen to anyone at any time. Stoke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a leading cause of long-term disability. Quick recognition of stroke signs and symptoms along with calling 9-1-1 is key when it comes to time sensitive stroke care. When it comes to stroke, every minute counts; Time is brain! Stroke treatment is time sensitive. The “clot-busting” medication that dissolves the clot causing the stroke and restoring blood flow to the brain tissue has a small-time window of only a few hours. Stroke symptoms occur suddenly and are serious, so BEFAST:

  • Balance: sudden change in balance or coordination.

  • Eyes: sudden change in vision

  • Face: sudden facial droop

  • Arms: sudden arm weakness

  • Speech: sudden change in speech

  • Time: call 911.



Time is brain

Every minute a stroke goes untreated about 2 million brain cells die. Recognizing stoke and activating the ambulance is proven to improve stroke care. Ambulance crew members are trained to recognize the seriousness of a stroke and they can pre-alert the hospital stroke team. With pre-notification, the stroke team is ready and waiting for the patient’s arrival to the emergency department. All of this leads to quicker assessments, faster treatment, and more brain cells saved, which helps with the ultimate goal of preventing long term disabilities and saving a life.

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Stroke is largely preventable; in fact, 80% of strokes are preventable. Many stroke risk factors can be eliminated or improved with lifestyle changes and/or provider support. One in three American adults has at least one stroke risk condition or habit. Know your stroke risk factors and prevent a stroke.

The Stroke Risk Scorecard is a table that lists stroke risk factors and helps determine a low or high-risk score. If you score high, discuss possible treatment options or lifestyle changes that can improve your stroke risk with your primary care provider.

Working with your primary care provider and managing your stroke risk factors is important in preventing stroke. Together, let’s prevent stroke and help stop long-term disabilities and possibly save a life.

Stroke is preventable, so work to manage your risk factors. Stroke is also treatable, so remember if you spot a stroke, BEFAST!


Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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