May 21, 2021

Time Is Brain: Don't Delay Care Because of COVID-19

As the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, stroke is a very serious condition. You may have heard the phrase “time is brain” or it may be a completely foreign idea to you, but the meaning is simple; the longer you wait to seek treatment once experiencing symptoms of stroke, the greater the potential risk for irreversible brain damage or death.

The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus Neurologist, Wade B. Welch, MD explains stroke and your risks relating to COVID-19.

“Most commonly during stroke, an artery becomes blocked leading to sudden loss of function in the part of the brain supplied by the artery, with symptoms like trouble with speech or vision weakness or loss of coordination,” Welch said. “Strokes usually occur because of an abnormal buildup of cholesterol plaque in arteries supplying the brain, blood clotting abnormalities, and/or heart problems. Less commonly, bleeding in the brain happens when a blood vessel ruptures.”

While most of us can agree strokes are an emergency not to be taken lightly, since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many individuals have abandoned this notion due to hesitancy related to COVID-19. In September 2020, the CDC reported four in 10 U.S. adults avoided medical care due to concerns related to COVID-19.

“During a stroke, the part of the brain deprived of blood supply loses neurons or brain cells at an astonishing ratio,” Welch said. “So, every minute counts to get to the hospital to attempt to reopen blood vessels.”

If you’re concerned about COVID-19’s relation to stroke, Welch explains, “Stroke patients are not particularly at greater risk for infection with COVID-19, but patients with COVID-19 have a higher risk for blood clots, which may increase the risk for stroke.”

Approximately 80 percent of strokes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes which can be identified by your healthcare provider during a routine checkup. Furthermore, once you begin noticing signs of stroke, seeking emergency medical care is imperative as the delay of medical care can mean permanent damage to the brain tissue or even death. Lasting effects of stroke can include vision problems, speech impairment, paralysis and memory loss. The quicker you act, the greater your chance of retaining brain function. Welch advises, “Stroke symptoms may or may not be permanent depending on the severity of the stroke and the ability of the other parts of the brain to compensate for damaged brain region or network.”

If you’re overdue for a routine checkup, or experience signs of stroke, know it’s safe to seek care in our facility. The worst thing you can do for your health is to wait.

The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus is certified in Stroke Rehabilitation with The Joint Commission and is recognized as a Primary Stroke Center with Gold Plus Status by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. To learn more about stroke care at St. Francis Campus, visit: https://kutopeka.com/services/inpatient-rehabilitation.

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