From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Women's Health

When it comes to a stroke, BE FAST

Palmetto Health-USC Neurology

A “brain attack” is what happens when you’re having a stroke. Ravish Kothari, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Neurology, said there are two types of strokes: an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke is an interruption in the blood supply to the brain, while a hemorrhagic stroke is a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, both causing the death of brain cells.

Dr. Kothari warned that a stroke can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Here are a few statistics about strokes:

  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Every four minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of a stroke.
  • South Carolina is considered the buckle of the “Stroke Belt,” along with North Carolina and Georgia. The Stroke Belt is made up of states where the people are more likely to have a stroke than people in other states. In the Stroke Buckle, people are twice as likely to have a stroke compared to the national average.
Given the statistics, it is extremely important to know signs and symptoms of a stroke. Here’s an easy way that Dr. Kothari gives to remember them: BE FAST.
B: balance problems.
E: eye or vision problems.
F: face numbness or weakness.
A: arm or leg numbness or weakness.
S: speech or language trouble.
T: time – every minute of a stroke, 1.9 million brain neurons die. Don’t waste time. Call 9-1-1 right away.
There are two types of treatments for an ischemic stroke: IV tPA, which works by dissolving a blood clot, and a thrombectomy, a surgical procedure that removes a blood clot. However, these treatments are both time sensitive. IV tPA can be given up to 3 hours after the stroke occurs, and a thrombectomy procedure can be done anywhere from 4 to 6 hours after the stroke to 16 to 24 hours after, in special cases. It is very important that you don’t wait around when you think you’ve had a stroke, because it can lead to irreversible damage to the brain.
Dr. Kothari said there are risk factors that cannot be changed, such as age, gender, race and genetics. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk for a stroke. Here are some of his tips:
  • See your primary doctor regularly. A stroke does not discriminate, so even if you are young and believe you are perfectly healthy, you still need to see your doctor on a regular basis.
  • Take prescribed medications regularly if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Improve your diet. Try to eat more fruits and veggies and cut out unnecessary fats.
  • Work exercise into your daily routine. Dr. Kothari suggests a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week.
  • Avoid smoking or illegal drugs completely.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
“It is okay to overreact when you are in doubt about stroke symptoms,” said Dr. Kothari. “Call 911 whenever you are concerned about someone having a stroke. Come to the ER, and we will take care of the rest.”

Palmetto Health Stroke Center

Time is critical when it comes to a stroke. Our team is on-site 24/7, with a multidisciplinary program of care and leading-edge approach for stroke patients. 

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