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Stroke Montefiore Nyack Hospital

Know the Signs of Stroke

Getting early treatment can save your life.

When it comes to treatment for a stroke, time is of the essence. “If you think you may be having any signs of a stroke, go the hospital right away,” says Jeffrey Rabrich, DO, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Montefiore Nyack Hospital. “Stroke drugs only work if they are given within the first three hours after symptoms start. If someone comes in after that, these drugs are no longer a treatment option.”

Dr. Rabrich says the easiest way to remember common stroke symptoms is by using the letters in "F.A.S.T." to spot stroke signs and know when to call 9-1-1:

  • 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?
  • Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
  • Time to Call 9-1-1: 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.

Other signs of stroke can include sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache

What is a Stroke?
According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or ruptures. About 85% of strokes in the United States are caused by a clot. This is called an ischemic stroke. A stroke drug called TPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, dissolves the clot and improves blood flow. Immediate treatment with this clot-busting drug may reduce the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.

Dr. Rabrich says stroke patients receive top-quality treatment at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, which is designated a Certified Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health. Institutions with this designation are recognized as being best able to address the comprehensive medical needs of stroke patients.

The Hospital has also received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the Hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Reduce Your Stroke Risk
High blood pressure and diabetes are the biggest risk factors for stroke, Dr. Rabrich says. “The best way to prevent a stroke is to control your blood pressure, and if you have diabetes, to keep your blood sugar under control,” he says. Getting regular exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet are also key ways to prevent a stroke. “By controlling your risk factors you can lower your risk of death or disability from stroke,” Dr. Rabrich says.