By Dr. Timothy Parsons
Chief of Neurology, Hospital of Central Connecticut
On July 4, former New England Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke. Because he knew the signs — Bruschi, 46, had a stroke in 2005, only days after the Patriots’ third Super Bowl victory — he acted quickly, resulting in quick intervention and medical attention near his Massachusetts home.
The faster you can recognize the signs of a stroke, the sooner you can receive treatment. Responding quickly can help minimize any long-term effects of a stroke.
A stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. This happens when a blood vessel becomes blocked by a clot or bursts. The brain suffers damage from a lack of necessary oxygen and nutrients. The end result could be disability or, in the worst case scenario, death.
So what are the signs and signals of a stroke? Weakness or numbness in the face or limbs is common, especially on one side of the body. A sudden confusion could be a sign of stroke. Difficulty speaking or a sudden change in vision are also signs of a stroke. Other symptoms include sudden dizziness or a loss of coordination or balance. Keep in mind, the symptoms can be brief and subtle. It’s important not to minimize the signs. Seek treatment quickly, as even a minor symptom can be a predictor of something more serious to come.
An easy way to keep stroke awareness top of mind is to remember the F.A.S.T. test. The F.A.S.T. test is a simple assessment if you think a loved one is having a stroke.
- Face: Ask the person to smile. A face droop is an indicator of stroke.
- Arms: When raising both arms, does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: Can the person repeat a sentence and be understood? Are words slurred?
- Time: Time is of the essence! Call 911 or get to the hospital quickly.
Hartford HealthCare’s Comprehensive Stroke Center provides emergency stroke treatments at The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s New Britain and Bradley Memorial campuses, as well as at Hartford Hospital, MidState Medical Center in Meriden and Backus Hospital in Norwich. Stroke patients can expect a coordination of rehabilitation services, which include physical, occupational and speech therapy. Nutrition services and a variety of hospital wellness programs also support patients making lifestyle changes.
For patients suffering from an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot to the brain, our Stroke Center uses advanced image processing technology known as RAPID CT Perfusion, which can pinpoint areas of damage and provide important information for physicians. This technology benefits the patient by providing vital data for maximizing the best possible outcome.
Strokes do not hurt. A common reflex is to try to wait it out until symptoms pass, but it’s imperative to act quickly. Tedy Bruschi is resting comfortably at home and expects a full recovery, crediting quick intervention for maximizing treatment options. People who are treated earlier recover better. Do the F.A.S.T. test, and don’t ignore the signs of a stroke.
For more information on the Hartford HealthCare Comprehensive Stroke Center, click here.